What to look for in a candidate - The Explorer: Columns

What to look for in a candidate

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 4:00 am

Now that the mid-term election process has begun, I am frequently asked, “Who should I support?” As your Mayor, I will not publically support any particular candidate, but there are some important questions to consider when making your selection.

Does this candidate express a willingness to represent all people?

A true willingness to represent all people is critical. It is important to understand that the idea of “people” extends beyond individual constituents and includes groups of people, such as residents, developers, business owners, environmentalists, seniors, children, and the list goes on. Although the term “special interest groups” has earned a negative connotation, that is exactly what these groups are—community members with shared vision and values. So when a candidate declares an unwillingness to represent “special interest groups,” that candidate disregards the very makeup of the community.  These types of campaigns intentionally pit one group against another and worse yet, one resident against another.  Too many state and national campaigns are waged on this basis. At the local level, we can do better.   

Will this candidate seek equitable solutions through collaboration and compromise?

Public concerns and local issues cannot be resolved unilaterally. Support candidates who will serve our community by working with all concerned parties. Support candidates who want to bring people together in an effort to find a mutually-agreeable solution. Support candidates who aren’t afraid of the word “compromise” because they understand it is a willingness to collaborate and be flexible. Be cautious of candidates who express a fixed position on a given issue. When this occurs, the willingness to work with others and find a satisfactory solution is already lost. Some candidates argue that compromise assures that no-one wins. I have a different perspective. When you bring all parties to the table to work out a fair and equitable solution, everybody wins, but it takes the good-faith participation of all concerned.

What does this candidate have to offer?

It takes little effort to point out the faults in others through negative campaigning. When a candidate spends more time pointing the finger than focusing on what he or she can contribute to the community, beware. A campaign based on criticism and discrediting others often lacks the substance that voters deserve.  Support candidates who have a vision of progress for our community and well-articulated ideas on how he or she can contribute to that vision. Don’t be distracted by negative campaigning. Expect more from your candidates.

This is a very exciting time for the Town of Oro Valley. Over the last year-and-a-half, the Town Council has worked together to foster a community of progress, including: increased employment opportunities with the expansion of Roche-Ventana (with the help of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities), established an Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance to preserve our open spaces (with the help of the Metropolitan Pima Alliance and the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association), new development along Lambert Lane to provide assisted living quarters for our seniors (partnering with developers), preservation of transportation for senior and disabled residents (partnering with the Regional Transportation Authority), expansion of the James D. Kreigh Park swimming pool for our children (partnering with schools and parents), creation of the OV Dollars program (partnering with Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce and the business community), and lastly, the preservation of public safety at a time when other jurisdictions are making cuts.

In the midst of an ongoing recession, your Town Council has made remarkable strides through collaboration, partnership, innovative thinking and compromise. As we near the election for Council seats, remember to ask yourself: Is this candidate willing to represent all people?  Will this candidate seek equitable solutions?  What does this candidate have to offer?  Only you—our voting citizens—hold the power to ensure Oro Valley’s continued success.  After all…we are all Oro Valley.

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