With the April election getting closer, what is the best way for an individual to get information about a candidate? Newspapers and the televised media will provide information, but we can also access that information through social networks like Facebook and on the Internet. You can also count on all the candidates to target their local voters with their campaign messages.

An educated voter is the best kind. This isn’t always the case, though. One well-known distraction in all elections is voter apathy. Sometimes candidates who are trying to sell themselves come across as being superficial, subjective, or theatrical. This is another irritation. Candidates become caricatures of themselves and the popularity factor becomes far too competitive creating negative political ads, often without real substance. As a former candidate in 2003 and 2007, I found it frustrating that many people resisted talking about the issues. Below is a guideline that might help voters navigate
the political information we will soon see.

Seeing and talking directly to the candidates is recommended, you can hurl as many questions at them as they allow. Please allow for some listening too.

Attending open candidates’ events, like meet-and-greets and forums, are also beneficial. Generally people behave cordially in a larger group, and a timid individual is less likely to feel uncomfortable, or put on the spot.

Ask the incumbent how they are doing. A commonly mistaken notion it that if nothing is said about a policy, program, or service, it is, by default, working. Ask the candidate’s feelings on alternative perspectives.

Ask the challengers what they are going to do to improve what we have now, or how they are going to accomplish that difference.

Ask something that you are passionate about; I’m a sustainable, urban planning geek, that’s a topic I use a lot. I hope these suggestions are helpful. Remember to register to vote, ask good questions, be selective and sensitive to the source of the information that you get, and then vote.

Bob Cox

2003 candidate for Forest Park commissioner; District 209 School Board member.