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Elections: How do you vote?

In about a week, my home state of Washington will hold our primary elections. This year is especially interesting because our current Governor, Christine Gregoire, has decided not to run for re-election. So, we have the opportunity to elect someone new with a fresh perspective on the difficulties facing our State right now.  The following is a brief description of how I approach my Voters’ Pamphlet and how I evaluate Candidates up for election.

 

United States Senator

I view this office as tied for the #1 most important position up for election this term.  In the Senate, there are only 2 Senators that represent each State at the Federal level. So this means that this small group of people are the ones that decide which Bills (laws/programs) are passed through Congress and given to the President for his signature (or veto).  You’ve probably heard of the “gridlock” in Congress that’s been going on since 2010 with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and a Democratic majority in the Senate. There hasn’t been a lot of compromise between these two houses which has led to the Senate not passing a Budget in over 3 years.  I believe that is unacceptable and that we need a change in the Senate atmosphere.

The 2 Senators currently representing Washington State are Patty Murray (D) and Maria Cantwell (D). Senator Cantwell’s term is up at the end of this year so she is running for re-election against several challengers.  I had not heard of any of them before so I decided to dive into the bios submitted by each candidate in the Voters’ Pamphlet.  The first thing I look at, besides the picture hee hee, is the “Elected Experience” section at the very top of each bio. Depending on the office, it may or may not be important that the candidate has had government experience before.  For a high office like US Senator, I think it’s important that they have had some experience, perhaps as a State Senator or House Representative.  I also think some experience in the private sector is helpful to give the candidate a grasp on the realities that most Americans face every day.

I also look at a candidate’s Education, any public Endorsements received and who gave them (!!!), and the tone of the Statement provided.  I look for indications that a candidate supports the private sector and small businesses, limited government, personal responsibility, and financial prudence, including any plans to increase or decrease our nation’s debt or spending.

Governor

In my opinion, the governorship is the other most important office up for election this term in Washington State.  Functionally, this office serves as President at the State level and has a lot of far-reaching executive power.  So it is important that we evaluate these candidates carefully.  I use the same evaluation techniques for the Governorship as I do for a US Senator, described above, with a little more emphasis on private sector, “real world” experience.

Judge

For those people that use the “(Prefers __ Party)” as a starting point, evaluating Judges is a bit more difficult and time consuming.  These positions are very important, however, so I read through their bios, looking for two things.  The first is any indication that the Judge believes that our Constitution or other laws are wrong and they wish to redefine them for a new age.  A comparable religious example would be those people who read the Bible and say, “This book suited people thousands of years ago but is no longer relevant in modern times”.  Some judges believe that our Constitution is a “living, breathing, evolving” document that can be manipulated far from what our founding fathers intended.

The second item to look for is whether or not the judicial candidate seems tied to one particular cause or interest group – Endorsements help indicate this sometimes.  One example from the King County Voters’ Pamphlet that I found troubling was on page 84, Elizabeth Berns‘ bio.  In her Statement, she said, “With the growing diversity in our community, our courts must meet the changing needs of our citizens.”  That statement is vague and confusing.  How are our needs as citizens changing, especially in relationship to the courts?  We’ve always needed Judges to interpret the law strictly and fairly, and not to pervert justice based on their own emotional or personal preferences.  Lastly, Ms. Berns’ endorsements are mostly political and only represent a liberal viewpoint.  That does not give me a lot of confidence in her ability to judge without bias or partisanship.

Lastly, there are two new tax levies proposed that would affect only the homeowning contingency of our State, which I believe are troublesome.  I am not against providing funds to update public buildings that are in need of remodel, etc.  But why should only the people who own homes carry the burden of building public courts or libraries or any buildings which are intended for everyone to use?

If any of you have any questions about my upcoming voting selections, I’d be happy to share them with you for further discussion!  If you are not interested in elections or politics in general, please see my post on Apathy!