While canvassing, the 2 most asked questions of me are: “Are you running against Ellen Waxman [or] Stacey Elliott?” And “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” which is closely followed up with “I only vote for [insert party affiliation].”
The first question is concerning with respect to unconscious gender bias. There are 11 candidates running for 5 at-large seats of which 8 are men and 3 are women. Where does this question come from? Is a woman only capable of running against another woman? Did this country not just witness Hilary Clinton run for President against a man not once, but twice? There are 5 seats that belong to the voters of the Town of North Kingstown. Those 5 seats do not belong to a particular candidate or a party. Gender should have ZERO-factor in the equation. Qualification and leadership should be the leading considerations for voters. Diversity is important but not when it inserts an incompetent person in lieu of a qualified one.
The second question is equally troubling. A confident, well informed voter typically identifies with some but not all values of a particular party – most of those values are arguably national level conversations. Leanings that define how we identify include and are not limited to: Abortion, 2nd Amendment, Labor/Trade, Immigration and Social Progress. Both groups of voters should know that they have been profiled by BOTH parties as to their voting strength or weakness and that information is made available in databases provided by both parties to candidates and committee members at all levels. The voter who decides to vote based on party affiliation ONLY with no regard for the credential of a candidate is a danger to the entire system.
Voters should be concerning themselves with the following: Is the candidate actively participating in town council meetings? Do they have legitimate credentials in business, education and/or accomplishments? Is the candidate financially stable in their personal and business life? Do they have a past criminal record? Is the candidate informed on the issues that are most immediately important to the voter? Is the candidate accessible and responsive to constituents?
Sometimes the most qualified candidate comes from the “other team” and that doesn’t make voting for them wrong. What is wrong is voting for unqualified and unstable people into office by which they gain access to the taxpayer checkbook with voting privileges.
I could have run for higher office and I seriously considered it. The GOP has vetted me for Senate and House since 2010. I chose to stay local because I am committed to the town I grew up in, was educated in, own a home, a business and pay residential and commercial taxes in. I am invested in “being” local. Are you?
If a candidate makes the effort to knock on your door, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to have a deeper conversation with him/her.
Mary K. Brimer, CLU, ChFC
Ginger Green Financial