Exercise your freedom of speech in your voting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

You have every right to exercise your freedom of speech on Election Day and to feel comfortable in your decision.

The main line of conversation between people has gone from Hurricane Isabelle and the damage that it caused to candidates who are running for the Suffolk Clerk of Court position. People are getting their lives back on track now that most cleanups from the storm have taken place and are centering their attention towards Tony Brown, Randy Carter, Johnnie Edwards, Barbara Gayle, Clinton Jenkins, Robert Nelms and Kirk Pretlow.

In the good old days before elections took place, I often remember churches, and black leaders like the late Moses Riddick and black religious leaders who took the time to study candidates’ political records, programs, backgrounds and goals for political offices to steer us in the right direction.


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On Election Day, people like the late Doris Cherry and some others would sit outside various voting precincts to pass out sample ballots and literature to make sure that we voted for the best qualified person to fill that particular office. However, in today’s elections, there is a diverse selection of candidates and religious leaders and other leaders who seem not to be as dedicated as our older leaders were.

The Suffolk Clerk of Court office is close to home for me because I visit that office at least twice a month to record land transfers and marriage licenses. Whoever fills the late Henry Murden’s shoes will have that position for eight years. One of his many duties was to perform marriages to those who preferred to get married in the Suffolk City Clerk’s office. Therefore, in my opinion, we have to look at the candidate’s religious background also in determining who will best fill the position, since this is a sacred ceremony.

Along with studying the candidates, if possible, I plan to learn all the duties of this office. As for the candidates, the News-Herald is trying to help readers make a good decision. Members of the news staff along with the editor and managing editor are interviewing every person running for that office. Each candidate’s interview will be published before Election Day so that readers can decide for themselves which one is best suited for the position of the Suffolk Clerk of Court.

Some of these candidates worked very hard in their campaigning to make themselves known to the public.

We saw them–

— Attending our social functions to show that they can let their hair down the same as we do.

— Coming to our aid in a crisis.

— Attending our church services

— Attending our charitable donation programs.

— Putting their names out there on political literature and signs as much as possible so that they could grow on us.

Some organizations have already endorsed their candidates but if that endorsement is not OK with you, you still have your own mind. There are still at least three things that you can do by yourself-live, die and vote.

A friend told me just last week that she was glad that she was not a member of a certain organization because it endorsed a candidate that she didn’t approve of. I felt that this thinking was wrong because the organization was a very meaningful one and was formed to support good causes.

However, I really am a person who also will not be a part of anything if the worse intentions outweigh the good ones. Therefore, I wouldn’t let a thing like the endorsement of a candidate keep me from looking into the main reason the organization exists, especially when I still can have my last say in an election.

I’m not depending on anyone’s endorsement to cast my vote either and I am encouraging everyone who is a registered voter to do so.

Now, I do have an answer for anyone who may be facing the dilemma of an unsatisfactory endorsement. The majority of a membership of an organization may rule; but only YOU know who YOU should have an idea who is best qualified to receive your vote when that curtain is closed behind you. Do yourself justice and vote for that person.

There is no harm in exercising your right to the freedom of speech and doing it with the knowledge that you are comfortable with the candidate of your choice.

Evelyn Wall is a staff reporter and regular columnist for the News-Herald. She can be contacted at 934-9615 or via e-mail: evelyn.wall@suffolknewsherald.com