Six Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates

Six Things to Consider When Evaluating Candidates

Published Feb. 16, 2020 ; Updated Jul. 16, 2022

When several candidates are running for one office, how will you decide which one will get your vote?

For me, a systematic approach is helpful. First, I gather the facts about each candidate using the internet and trustworthy sources. Then I compare the candidates in terms of these six things:

1. Issue platform

What does each candidate want to accomplish if elected? Have they been specific? What do they consider “success”? Do they share my priorities and positions on issues?

2. Time in residence

How long has each candidate lived in the district they are running to represent? Have they been there long enough to understand the local issues and their history? Do they know what’s been tried in the past, what succeeded and what failed? Possible “third rails”?

3. Community service

What has each candidate done before running for this office? Have those experiences shown a commitment to the greater community and prepared them to be effective in this role? Have incumbents running for reelection demonstrated a willingness to listen to the people they represent? Have I agreed with their votes on matters important to me?

4. Education and Work Experience

What is each candidate’s educational background and work experience? Are they sufficient to enable them to successfully fulfill this role?

5. Public image

What do each candidate’s website, social media, and campaign ads say about them? What messages do the campaign slogan, pictures, and images they have chosen convey? Whose endorsements have they accepted and publicized? What conclusions can be drawn from the amounts, sources, and uses of their campaign funds?

6. The big picture

In addition to evaluating each candidate individually, I also consider the governing body as a whole. How important is institutional knowledge? Is all “new blood” what’s needed, or is a mix of old and new better? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the members who are not up for election this year? What skills are missing that new members could add, and which candidate(s) could bring those skills?

Only you know what’s important to you. Carefully consider all your options. Then get out and vote!

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