Guest Column: Do your research

Guest Column: Do your research

Cindy Schake
St Johns, FL

Campaign finance laws have gone a long way to allowing the electorate to judge the veracity and sincerity of a candidate and any specific, special interest, or agenda they may have as they seek public office.

Money is speech and it will always be present in politics, no matter what your view. Money as speech is an innocuous thing in general. It is the mother’s milk of politics and is necessary for good people who seek to serve their community.

It can also be a poisonous influence when one candidate has little to no grassroots support, but has someone with unlimited resources supporting them with the intent of buying a particular seat.

There may be independence with that support or a complete dependence on that support, which ultimately may cause a problem for the candidate in executing their fiduciary duties to the citizens and taxpayers. We all remember Tom Manuel.

It is also telling to look at the financial resources and income sources a candidate reports in order to understand their ability to serve based on the salary that position pays.

For instance, a county commissioner is paid $64,000 annually under Florida law and is considered a full-time occupation. Be careful of candidates who seek to serve these seats, but cannot afford to live on the salary.

To better understand the nature and sources of the funds a candidate comes to the race with, please go to the St. John’s County Supervisor of Elections website, http://votesjc.com/, look under “Candidate Information” for filings.

Another point to consider is candidates who have business entanglements, which may intersect with interests they would have to vote on.

Also, beware of the negative advertising tucked in your mailbox that does not cite sources of their allegations.

To make the most informed decision as to who will represent your interests and the best interests of your community, take a look at the candidates’ community involvement and length of time they have been active in these endeavors, their life experiences, skills, and education each brings to the position they would be representing.

Also, be discerning with candidates who say one thing and have a record that states otherwise. Do some investigative research of your own and educate yourself before you vote.

Your vote is your voice as an American citizen. It is your opportunity to be heard. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions and have a say in important issues that affect our community. On Election Day, every vote matters.

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