Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What this woman wants

I’ve given a lot of time and thought to the 5th District Democratic nomination for Congress. I have researched both candidates heavily and even asked questions when I didn’t understand and couldn’t find out what I wanted to know. As May 20, 2006, draws nearer, it’s almost time for that fat lady to sing—but I still don’t have answers from Bern Ewert to my questions from February. So I guess I’ll just have to decide what I’m really looking for in a candidate and go from there in making the final decision as to my vote at the convention.

If I was looking to hire someone to balance a budget in the 5th District, I would have to consider Bern an excellent candidate for the position. He has come up against some really large deficits in the past (not in Virginia, however) and helped to whittle them down to a workable amount. However, if you consider all the localities where he’s worked in the U.S., the jobs he takes credit for creating (all on his own, of course) are probably running pretty close to the jobs that have been lost on his watch (due to company downsizing, moving outside the locality, closure, etc.) and the jobs that have been eliminated to balance budgets. [I’m only looking at jobs for which there are documented statistics—like the civil labor force numbers from VELMA, part of the Virginia Employment Commission website. If the jobs can’t be documented by outside sources, then they don’t really count. As a college class it would be called “Fun with Numbers.” Know any former economics and management professors out there who might qualify to teach that class?]

However, when it comes right down to it, what I’m looking for right now is a candidate for Congress—not a fiscal manager for the 5th District. What are my criteria?

  • I’m looking for someone who will answer the hard questions regardless of whether the responses are popular—about his record, his stand on the issues, and why things were or should be done one way rather than another. In other words, I’m looking for someone who will not blow off even one person’s questions or consider themselves above answering whatever is asked of them.
  • I’m looking for someone who can bring new ideas to help in the district’s widespread corners—someone who has ideas in many different areas for the broad range of localities that the 5th District contains—not someone who only wants to create another layer of bureaucracy in Southside to examine the economic issues “one more time.”
  • I’m looking for someone who considers every constituent important and goes out to visit every locality in the 5th District to meet and greet voters. Not someone who picks the area(s) where he’s best known and caters to them more than the rest of the district.
  • I’m looking for someone who doesn’t pander to any group—women, African-Americans, gays/lesbians, military veterans, etc.—or use “civil rights” as the key focus for their record without being able to prove it with numbers rather than only words. Words are cheap—where are the facts?
  • I’m looking for someone who doesn’t lose his cool when things don’t go his way or when his ideas are not accepted. I’m not looking for someone who screams or tries to shout his opponents down, blames others for his problems or poor record, or tries to divert attention away from areas of concern. I’m looking for a people person who can work with others—even when those people are difficult to deal with.
  • I’m looking for someone who will not joke his way out of a problem by claiming “temporary insanity.” Those of us with real mental illnesses (like depression) don’t appreciate your jokes—no matter how politically motivated or cute they may seem to you.
  • I’m looking for a candidate who has real opinions on the issues and whose stand on those issues is supported by his past actions. Don’t tell me you’re for civil rights for women and have your record show that you supported a city employee whose actions were against the very policies he is supposed to monitor (sexual harassment). Don’t talk about being a union supporter when you’ve talked about unions being a major problem with city budgets in the past and don’t even use union printers to produce your current campaign signs.
  • And above all, I’m looking for the honest candidate—not someone who lies about FEC filings (without being able to produce copies of the initial paperwork), can’t produce letters of support from prominent individuals, or tells a reporter a story that he knows isn’t true.

As it stands right now, Bern Ewert doesn’t meet ANY of my criteria. But there’s still a few days left until the convention and I’ve been a patient person so far. A few more days of waiting for answers won’t kill me.


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