Election 2014: You Decide

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” — John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy’s brief words on voting really define why Up & Coming Weekly creates its election guide. There is no greater responsibility or privilege of being an American citizen than that of voting. It is the basis for this great experiment we call a democracy.

10-29-14-pub-notes.gifBut with great privilege and responsibility there comes a price and that price is knowledge. You cannot go the polls unless you are armed with knowledge; knowledge to make informed decisions and not vote based on the party line or on personality. You must know what people stand for. You must know their background and you must know their record. Without this basic information, you are going to the polls unarmed and uniformed. An uninformed voter is like an unattended loaded gun — dangerous!

So, for the past 19 years, we have worked to give our community a snapshot of the candidates who are running for office. We do it by letting the candidate’s speak for themselves. Our process is simple.

We send out a request to every candidate on the ballot asking them to either respond to a series of questions, or in the case of this year, we gave every candidate 500 words to let you, the voter, know why you should vote for them.

This year we emailed the request to every candidate and followed it up with a phone call. The candidates whose answers are found inside the guide are the ones who took the time to respond. If a candidate is not in the guide, it is not because they were not afforded the opportunity to speak directly to you, but rather they chose not to take it. That speaks volumes.

If you are like me, your mailboxes have been inundated with mailers that tell you little about the candidate but a lot of bad things about their opponent. That is not the kind of information any of us need to go to the polls. Instead we need to go to the polls armed with the facts, armed with the truth. And you can’t find that on negative mailers or through political action committee-sponsored 60 second commercials on your television.

The truth about candidates can be found in what they have to say about themselves and in what their past actions, whether in office or in the community, say about them. And you can only know that by questioning and by studying the candidates.

Some of you may have already gone to the polls. If you have, I hope you took the time to educate and inform yourselves. If you have not voted yet, then use this guide as a stepping off point. Read about the candidates and then research them. Look at their voting records. Look at where they spend their money and who spends money on them. Look at their experience and see if they have the experience that will allow them to make good decisions for you. It’s your future. It’s your children’s future.

Voting may be one of the most important things you will do in the coming weeks. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t do it as a matter of habit, and definitely don’t do it based on party lines. Do it because the candidate in question deserves your vote, because they have earned it. Do it because you want this great experiment in freedom to succeed. It’s your privilege, but it’s also your responsibility. Do not take it lightly.

Thanks you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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