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The right to be wrong | Editorial
As another election day approaches, incumbents seeking reelection and challengers seeking to hold public office are drawing the lines between right and wrong, as they see it.
They all bring their varied backgrounds, life experiences, perspectives and passions to their campaign platforms. Both incumbents and challengers contend that they are correct in their views and their opponents are wrong. Both see the “issues” of the city or other government body differently, and wholeheartedly believe their perspective is not only right but the only way a reasonable individual would think and believe.
Often voters are confused by candidates’ charges and countercharges. How are voters to judge?
Those seeking an elected position run on the premise that the governing body is not being run correctly, a change is needed and they are the answers to bring this change. Too often, they come with a burning issue and have no knowledge of the rest of the story on that issue. They are unaware of the history of what has been tried or accomplished or is scheduled to occur. They do not know the local, state and federal regulations that restrict or require action by the staff or governing body. And they have not fully listened to and analyzed opposing viewpoints.
What are these candidates’ motives and mission? Many come under the guise of “Why aren’t you (the incumbent or staff) using the best practices as outlined by so and so to run your operation,” never looking into who actually uses these best practices in the region they live in or the surrounding communities.
Many file to run with the anticipation that once they are elected they will be able to single-handedly fire a member of the staff, change a policy or regulation and lead the city into a “glorious future” without the benefit of working with others.
Some contend on the basis that their everyday work experience in the private sector can be used in public arena in the same way – lawyers wanting to be lawyers, accountants wanting to be accountants, not understanding what the roles of members of a policy-making board really are. Some come into the “political arena” a short time before filing for election and run campaigns as if they know better how to manage a city than those with years of experience in that function. These candidates would do things “their way.”
For those seeking re-election, the past speaks volumes regarding their contributions, accomplishments, actions or words. Does the record show evidence of working together for the common good, or making the hard decisions as a member of a policy board and living with those hard decisions?
Or does the incumbent's record in office indicate negativity and the inability to work together as a team member? Do they promote their private agendas or consider themselves to have greater knowledge or experience than highly qualified and dedicated staff? Have they gained the respect of the policy board members while “down in the trenches” fighting through the everyday battles all boards are confronted with? How do they respond when on the losing side of an issue? As individual’s living in a glass bowl, have their lives been transparent and worthy of the trust of their constituents?
Both incumbents and challengers seek to be elected by constituents that too often look to a neighbor, friend, political party or endorsement list to determine whom to vote for.
Too many vote according to how someone else tells them to vote without any knowledge of the issues the candidates support or oppose. They don’t take the time to do the research for themselves. Some make their decisions based on one issue and vote accordingly, forgetting there are other issues just as important on the table but these are discarded for the sake of the one issue.
Other voters decide on the basis of the candidate’s brief write-ups in voter pamphlets. Most voters do not know the candidates or what they stand for, yet these voters consider themselves educated and knowledgeable about the issues and the candidates.
The right to vote was given to us at the founding of our great nation. The following statement was found when I did a Google searched the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution: “The Constitution has kept liberty safe by giving the people the right to vote. We, the people, have the right to select our leaders to help make our laws. And, we are also able to take the power away from our leaders, if we feel it is necessary.”
Above all the rhetoric, clamor, lies, distortions and loss of faith, Americans have a basic right. That is, no matter what, they have the right to be wrong in whom they decide to vote for in the upcoming election. No one can force them to elect candidates who are the best qualified to make policy decisions and who have the best interests of their constituents at heart.
However, I ask that you, as a voter, take the time to research the issues and candidates’ backgrounds. Then vote wisely on the basis of this knowledge. Also, vote with passion for the betterment of your city, state and nation and become involved in civic affairs. Our future depends on an educated electorate.
Glenn Rogers is a Kenmore Councilman.