With so many candidates vying for the available seats in November, it is very difficult to scrutinize them all. Recalling the 11th hour revelations that rocked the Council campaigns in both 2014 and 2016, it would be a service to voters and a nod to transparency for each candidate to answer basic questions upfront.
After attending nearly all of the 2016 candidate forums, I came away questioning the value of these sessions. Incumbents were rarely (if ever) asked to defend their voting records from previous years. Too little was done to try to match past experience/accomplishments with current promises. I’m unsure whether the civic organizations are too polite to ask tough questions about voting records, or whether they are too focused on their pet issues to care about the bigger picture. This voter found that overall, the forums had very little value with some asking downright embarrassing questions.
Voters need to know basic facts that go to each candidate’s background, character and fiduciary history. Questions such as (with details where appropriate):
- Please provide your full legal name. If you have used an alias or other name within the past 15 years, please provide those names, too.
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime (misdemeanor or felony)?
- Have you or a business for which you serve as a director, ever been indicted?
- Have you or a business for which you serve as a director, ever filed for bankruptcy?
- Have you ever been disbarred, censured or disciplined by a professional organization of which you have been a member?
- Has a restraining order ever been filed against you?
- Are your property tax payments up-to-date (if renter, are your rent payments up-to-date)?
- Are you or a business for which you serve as a director, up-to-date on your state and federal tax payments?
- What is your highest educational achievement?
- How many postal codes have you lived in over the past 15 years?
Answers to these questions are not necessarily disqualifying but will help voters to better assess the person they might offer their vote. I urge all candidates to provide answers to these questions on their social media sites. Likewise, I urge voters to ensure each candidate answers these questions during forums or private discussions.
Michael Morris, Laguna Beach