Signs. Signs. Everywhere, signs. In case you haven’t noticed, it is political season in Webster Parish, and across the state. One can hardly drive down a street without seeing a political sign, or pick up a newspaper without a political campaign story.
Although qualifying for the fall elections takes place this summer, I thought about the qualifications a candidate for any position should possess if they wanted to cultivate my vote. Here are some of my top priorities (as a voter):
Know the job. This seems so elementary for any political position, but I am amazed at how many people run a race, an win election, and have no clue how government works. From parliamentary procedures to the limitations of the office, these things should be at the top of the “to know” list of any candidate.
Know what’s going on. This is especially true for those seeking office in legislative or executive branches of government. However, even elected law enforcement officers need to know the current status of things. I recently met with one particular candidate who said they were too busy campaigning, etc. to keep up with the current happenings. My thought was, “We really don’t have time for a learning curve here.”
Willingness to work with others. My dad always said the most efficient form of government was a benevolent dictatorship, because the dictator didn’t have to ask permission from anyone. However, that is not how government works in the United States. Any candidate worth his or her salt should have a desire to see the world from the point of view of others. Just because someone has a different point of view does not necessarily invalidate their opinion. And, in government, no one lives or works in a vacuum. Cooperation is required for anything to get done, even something as simple as accepting the minutes of a previous meeting.
Agreeably disagreeing. Over the past several years, especially since 2016, things have gotten pretty nasty between those with different points of view, or political agendas. The political divide in Washington, D.C. has cascaded downhill to Louisiana and even some entities in Webster Parish. A well-rounded community and government is made of folks from many different backgrounds, who choose to work, live, and govern together for the good of all.
Running a clean campaign. When I was in Bossier, I witnessed a particularly nasty state race unfold. Supporters of one candidate constantly disparaged the other candidate. Things were so nasty that videos surfaced showing supporters of a particular candidate stealing the campaign signs of the opponent. It was truly a disgusting display.
Often, the candidates themselves are unaware of the actions of their supporters and volunteers. However, they are responsible for those actions, and should take every step possible to ensure such behavior is not tolerated.
Finally, and most importantly, any candidate running for office should be a lifelong learner. No one has every answer for every situation. We can all learn something valuable from our colleagues, subordinates, and even opponents.
The stakes this election cycle may be the highest they have ever been. We face real problems at all levels of government. However, we also have more opportunity for success than ever before in our history. We need to make the right choices, and those running for office need to really show why we should choose them.
David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc.