Back when our country was young, political candidates relied on their friends to spread the word about their accomplishments and suitability to hold office. In fact, historian Samuel Eliot Morison wrote that candidates "were supposed to play coy, obeying a call to service from their country, saving their energies for the task of government. Electioneering was done by newspapers, pamphlets, and occasional public meetings."
My, how things have changed.
In today’s political climate a reticent candidate would be totally ignored. In the past two weeks, I have received a mailbox full of glossy mailers asking me to vote for candidates for a variety of state seats. I can’t listen to the radio or watch television without a candidate trying their best to convince me they are the most reliable, dependable, yet down-to-earth candidate there has ever been and I would be a fool not to vote for them.
People who are not aware of the issues surrounding the open seats in state government are just not paying attention — and are probably the same people who actually think they can text and drive at the same time.
But locally, it’s a different matter all together. Most candidates running for city council seats are vying to take on the responsibilities of public office, while trying to juggle a full-time job, family life and other community service commitments. They simply do not have the time or money to run an effective publicity campaign.
That is where debates come in. Public debates give local government candidates an opportunity to let the public know their qualifications for holding office and voice their opinions about the hot issues of the day. Debates also give the public a chance to see and hear a candidate up close and in person before they have to make a choice in the voting booth. It’s scary to think how many people actually decide who to vote for based solely on whether or not they like the candidate’s name.
Turlockers are lucky that in the past few years, there have been multiple public debates held for candidates running for City Council and the school board. In the current City Council race, there have been two public debates that have been well-attended.
These forums have given voters a chance to see where each of the candidates stand on important issues such as economic development, growth and the homeless. If you have not been able to attend one of the public candidate forums, or have missed the news coverage of these debates in the Journal, don’t fret! There is still one more public debate scheduled.
The Journal and California State University, Stanislaus are co-hosting a public debate of Turlock City Council candidates at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at Snider Hall on the university campus. This is your final chance to hear for yourself where the candidates stand on the issues that affect you! There will also be an audience question time, so bring your concerns to the debate and hear what the candidates are prepared to do for you.
This is your government. It is your duty to make sure the right person is elected to represent Turlock.
I’ll see you there!
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.