Pay attention to qualifications this year

Published 9:21 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

If you own a television, there is an extremely good chance you know the election is coming Nov. 7.

Considering how important voting is in our democratic process, it is unfortunate how campaigns are conducted. I often wonder about the negative impacts involved. How many people do not vote because they are turned off by campaign commercials? How many people vote having no knowledge of the issues and candidates’ qualifications?

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There should be better ways to inform voters about issues and candidates’ qualifications, instead of the drama seen today. Based on our current system, to be an effective, responsible voter, a citizen must investigate these important factors to make educated voting decisions.

Virginia elections are unique in a couple of ways. Our state elections are not conducted at the same time as national elections. The intent is to allow voters to focus on state issues without being concerned about national issues. The down side of this arrangement is that fewer citizens vote in state elections.

Another way Virginia is unique involves the election of local constitutional officers, including sheriffs, commonwealth’s attorneys, circuit court clerks, commissioners of the revenue and treasurers. It is not uncommon for sheriffs to be elected in other states, but several of Virginia’s other constitutional officers’ positions are filled through employment in many other states.

In those states, the employment process for these positions involves management establishing criteria for a person to apply for a job and selecting candidates to be interviewed. In Virginia, a person with no law enforcement background could be elected sheriff.

This arrangement places a unique burden on voters. Each citizen, in effect, must play the role of a manager seeking an employee for each position to be voted on. What education and work background must a candidate have to be the right person to vote for? Would it be practical to vote for a city treasure or commissioner of the revenue that has no accounting background? Would it be practical to vote for a commonwealth’s attorney with no legal experience?

These are important questions each voter must ask. Unfortunately, during Virginia campaigns little emphasis is placed on the elections of these local people that play important roles in our governmental processes.

These often-overlooked officials have more daily impact on government’s effectiveness and efficiency than statewide office holders. Electing an unqualified person will cause a reduction of services and an increase in personal taxes.

Electing an unqualified person will result in citizens receiving poor government services and having less money in their pockets to spend on personal needs.

Be sure to investigate the candidates and vote for the qualified.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at