Kudos for the two Herald “What are you voting for?” reviews of job descriptions for our elected officials, which appeared in the June 23-24 Weekender. A couple of things in the articles gave me pause, which I shall address below.
First, a plea to my Franklin County friends and neighbors. Read those two reviews carefully. As you decide who to vote for, ask yourself if they are qualified. If elected, they have a four-year contract. We have to put up with their abilities or lack of ability for four years.
Next, what can we do to prepare for the coming election? I submit that we each should take on the role of “head of personnel” for a multimillion-dollar company. We are interviewing a candidate for a position in the company. Would you hire the person?
As voters, that is exactly the situation we face at the ballot box. We are hiring (electing) a person to represent us in a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
Take the job of county commissioner, for example. Commissioners “perform all powers of local legislation and administration they deem appropriate ... ,” according to the Herald article. Legislation and administration deemed appropriate? Is the interviewee (candidate) qualified to legislate and administer? Is the candidate capable of deciding what is appropriate to legislate? What sort of training and background is needed for this person?
The county clerk is a notary who keeps the minutes of county board of commissioners, so we know this person has to be able to read and write, is older than 18, has never been convicted of a felony, and bonded, all state requirements to qualify for the notary.
The county clerk position goes far, far beyond being a notary. It would serve each voter well to go to the Franklin County clerk website and read all the duties and responsibilities of the clerk. Suffice it to say, in the interest of space, that “Kansas Statutes place a great amount of legal responsibility in the position,” according to the website. Those Kansas statutes are our guidelines for vetting the candidates to decide who will get the position. Above all, it is necessary to consider experience and training in addition to their values, integrity and ability.
The county sheriff was the third position described in The Herald Weekender. The article proffered some interesting factlets about the origination of “sheriff” in England more than 1,000 years ago. This made me think of the old Western movies where they picked the sheriff on the spot, simply by pining a badge on him. Well, this is not the movies; we elect him/her.
“The sheriff’s duties are broad and include maintaining law and order in the county,” according to the article. This candidate is responsible for an annual budget of $1.5 million and supervises 30 employees operating county vehicles and caring for the incarcerated while interacting closely with the court system and other law enforcement agencies.
What background would you expect of the candidate for this job? To be responsible for 30 different personalities, most carrying guns, requires a special sort of person. In addition, this candidate will be managing a budget in the millions.
So we, the residents of Franklin County, are considering candidates for three top positions who will play a significant role in the operation of this multimillion-dollar enterprise. All three of these positions need an individual with a strong value system, personal integrity and ability.
There are ways to assess all three of these characteristics. It is our role as their employer to do our best in that assessment when we vote. This cannot be achieved unless we study the candidates to learn whether they can do what we need and expect.
In closing, consider this: In the business world, candidates for executive positions submit resumes and undergo multiple interviews, background checks, drug testing, written tests and more. We witness what might be considered “interviews” in the debates for major offices like the presidency. But not at the local level, the very level that has a more direct effect on our lives.
It is ironic that candidates for congress and local offices, with all their power and responsibility, have none of this. Yet, they perform acts that can destroy or alter our society for generations.
This can be changed — at the ballot box!
— Richard Warren, Ottawa