Guest Commentary: Quality Officeholders, Not Just Qualified Candidates
By Hassan Giordano
As we stand one year away from the all-important 2018 general election, we remain transfixed on the character we currently have serving as our commander-in-chief. President Trump has brought us to a period of political polarization the has left both parties paralyzed with paranoia on what he may do next, leaving many of us to question how in the world we got to this point.
That answer should be rather simple.
We allowed the qualifications of a political position to determine the future of our nation by assuming that meeting that low standard of approval would thereby ensure we elect a candidate ready and able to tackle the difficult tasks ahead. And while Democratic Party leaders across the country are busy trying to rally the troops to make sure our party turns out in droves during the midterms next year, we must also be cognizant of the reality that we also have candidates who will meet the qualifications of an office without rising to the standard of being a quality officeholder.
There will be plenty of names on next year’s ballots, some of whom you will be familiar with either because they are vying for re-election, or they ring a bell because they have run for elective office over and over again with the faint hope that one day they will get elected to some position with a fancy title. Either way, all of them will put forth their best efforts to try to convince the electorate why they are the best choice for the position they are seeking.
Some will use dazzling words like transparency and accountability, while others will use slogans such as “people before politics,” all the while never giving you any insight into the policy plans or qualifications they possess to solve the many challenges facing the offices they seek. There will be promise after promise about what they plan to achieve, if you choose to put them into office, while others will simply ask that you vote to keep them in office based on the things that they have already accomplished.
But what is the defining question(s) voters have to ask these candidates, and the answers that will determine whether or not these individuals are quality officeholders or simply qualified candidates mimicking the answers given by the quality candidate in hopes of winning the election?
I, for one, have always adhered to the basic principle of getting to the reasons a person decided to run for the position they seek, and to see what qualities they possess and actions they have taken previously that make them a worthwhile candidate.
To me, being a candidate should be more than just being qualified to get your name on the ballot. It should be about the body of work that candidate has shown over the years that can make even the most pessimistic voter confident in that candidate’s ability to achieve the goals they have set forth in their campaign platform.
And as a party, we shouldn’t mislead ourselves into believing that any candidate with the letter D following their name is someone who is worthy of your vote without first asking a very simple question: What have you done in your past that relates to the office you seek that shows me that you can be a quality officeholder, and more than just a qualified candidate?
Hassan Giordano, a Democrat, is a candidate for clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.