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What we think: Let’s choose wisely on Nov. 6

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We should have standards for all those who elect to pursue public office.

Many candidates have lined up to serve you, and on Tuesday you will have a chance to choose among them, which is a far from simple process. Both candidates and voters have much responsibility on Election Day.

These candidates have presented themselves to you, shown you in many ways who they are and the issues and principles that have formed their candidacies, and now it’s up to you to sort through all those messages and make the choice that best serves your needs.

The difficulty typically arises from this: Any election usually boils down to one or two issues, with almost always some aspect of the economy as being the most important topic. In the race for Shelby County School Board, for instance, the questions seem to be focused on tax rates.

But no matter the race, those financial discussions don’t always address the quality of the candidate or the assignment he or she is pursuing.

We sometimes are troubled by how candidates focus their campaigns and present themselves. Although we are enthusiastic supporters of having many stand up and offer themselves for the public good, we sometimes wonder if those who do fully understand the magnitude of the jobs at hand.

To that point, we have created this checklist that we think should be adopted as a measuring stick for a candidate, that every person whose name is on the ballot must be able to address fully and critically before being elected. To that point, we believe candidates must:

§  Have a clear and obvious record for having attended meetings of the body they want to serve. With a couple of notable exceptions, we haven’t seen too many of the current candidates attending meetings and getting a full understanding of decision-making and operational procedures.

§  Understand and embrace technology and recognize not only how it must be employed to improve the quality of a constituency and the area it would serve but also how it might be used for cost-saving purposes. Sadly, we have people serving in public office who do not embrace technology. We find that simply unacceptable.

§  Offer ideas for how they would serve their terms. Some do and some don’t. Some have shown a history of service and simply trade on that record, but few proffer ideas that might improve that board and the lives for all of us.

§  Understand that the issues aren’t always about the money. Some campaign on tax reform and voting records, and some question those records. It’s always good to ask the questions, but please understand that the answers are not always simply green and white

The Sentinel-Newsdoes not endorse candidates because the newspaper does not have the resources to do so thoroughly, but we believe that every candidate should be able to meet these basic requirements before being elected. That’s our endorsement.

We understand that many of you vote against the status quo and for or against the incumbent. Others vote based on party lines and your personal history.

But we don’t think there’s a party line anywhere that sufficiently defines the good candidate from the bad, and you have a responsibility to set aside that affiliation and consider each race and person individually and on merit.

That’s not easy, especially if you haven’t taken the time to get to know the candidates or their issues, but that’s what you have to do.

Don’t let the national presidential election overshadow Shelby County’s local races. These candidates can impact our community and us individually, for more than Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

That said, when the polls close on Tuesday and the last vote is counted, we don’t doubt that many good, devoted and worthy individuals will have been defeated.

We only hope that when you make those decisions, you consider whether the candidate really understands the job and wants to serve you. Don’t let your logic be lost in the periphery.