What to ask those running in this year’s elections

Published 9:07 pm Friday, July 1, 2016

The political campaign season is in full swing and voters are being bombarded with candidates’ campaign literature and speeches. The municipal election is scheduled for August 23.

Some incumbents and newcomers are vying for various public offices and school board seats. The incumbent is the current holder of a political office. A race without an incumbent is referred to as an open seat. Voters review and evaluate the record of the incumbent. When they are dissatisfied with his or her performance, they fire him or her through defeat.

A challenger becomes an acceptable alternative.

Incumbents usually have advantages over their challengers during elections.

Name recognition and the ability to raise money to finance a campaign are some common advantages of the incumbents.  However, there exists the rarely mentioned anti-incumbency factor. Anti-incumbency factor is when the incumbent has proven himself or herself not worthy of office during his or her tenure and the challenger demonstrates this fact to the voters. The challenger is victorious.

Nick Panagakis, a pollster, coined what is dubbed the “incumbent rule” in 1989 — that any voter who claims to be undecided towards the end of the election will probably end up voting for the challenger.

Voters are given the opportunity to make important choices during elections.

An intelligent voter is an informed voter. He or she has thoroughly familiarized himself or herself with the candidates’ position on various issues and their leadership qualities. Some voters have formulated a scorecard to evaluate potential public office holders. Cjonline.com suggested the following questions to ask city council candidates:

What would you bring to the city council that it doesn’t already have? How do you think the city government is doing in terms of being transparent, and are there any changes you’d like to see made regarding that?  Why should people vote for you instead of your opponents? What issues compelled you to run for the council, and where do you stand on them? How would you encourage employment and economic development in our area?   What’s the biggest challenge facing our schools and how will you work with the school board to address it? What do you think is going well right now in our city?

Some candidates are excellent orators and use distortion techniques.

A publication by the League of Women Voters titled “How to Judge a Candidate?” listed common distortion techniques: name calling/appeals to prejudice, rumor mongering, guilt by association, catchwords, passing the blame, promising the sky, and evading real issues: A publication by the League of Women Voters titled “How to Judge a Candidate?” listed common distortion techniques: name calling/appeals to prejudice, rumor mongering, guilt by association, catchwords, passing the blame, promising the sky, and evading real issues.

 

Gerald Shirley
Selma