Vet Your Candidate!

I ran across this advertisement the other day. I can’t remember what the website was, nor do I know where Schoharie County is, nor do I really care. I have deleted the names to avoid any possible questions of liability. I simply thought they were interesting questions and should prompt a response either from the candidate himself/herself or some of his/her supporters. I’ll step back and let you read through what follows and then make some comments.

“Here are some VERY IMPORTANT questions to ask of a certain candidate for Schoharie County Sheriff:

1) Have you ever been ARRESTED for a sex crime during the course of your employment with the Sheriff’s Office?
2) Have you ever been involved in and/or have your actions been responsible for a lawsuit resulting in a monetary settlement or settlements being paid to the claimant during the course of your employment with the Sheriff’s Office?
3) Did you ever attend and unsuccessfully complete NYS Police Firearms Instructor School due to gross negligence / safety violations (possibly for discharging a live round in classroom environment, thus endangering everyone in classroom).

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Unlike our current sheriff and candidate, our candidate has never been arrested or charged with any crime, nor have his actions been responsible for any lawsuit(s) and/or settlement(s).
Please be INFORMED before you cast your vote!”

weinermayorWe hear a lot about the importance of “vetting” a political candidate or potential appointee. Sometimes it’s easy to assume the best, but it can lull a voting constituency into complacency. What might have been avoided, for instance, if the voters and the media in Andrew Weiner’s district had been a bit more direct in examining him and his credentials? To be sure, the late night talk shows would not have had as much ready-for-primetime material for opening monologues. But the good folks of New York’s 9th congressional district would have been saved a lot of embarrassment.

I would hope, however, that we wouldn’t become so cynical as to go on witch hunts in an attempt to damage the reputation of any potential candidate. Every one of us has made mistakes in our lives. I used to tell my students that if they got a failing grade on a paper, it doesn’t mean they are “failures.” It simply means that they failed that one paper. Each candidate should examine his/her own life and determine whether their failures are significant enough to preclude him or her from running for the office. If there is a question, the candidate should seek counseling from his/her political associates as well as close friends. This means, of course, that the candidate should be absolutely candid and truthful with those acting as counselors as well as the people of his/her potential constituency.

The trust of the people is important if the candidate is to receive the support of the people. Even differences of opinion can be tolerated to a degree if the office holder has the trust of the people.

I said in an earlier blog that 2014 is going to be a bumpy ride. Nothing we do as a society is going to be more important for our futures that the people we put into office and in whom we place our trust. Think of that trust as a cushion against the bumps as we move into the unknown.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

About the author

Harry Livermore

Harry Livermore spent a lifetime teaching English in high schools and junior colleges in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. He now writes for and is editor of the Valdosta Magazine. Harry and his wife Janice live in Valdosta, GA. They are members of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Valdosta. Harry has two sons, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren who live in Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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