Scrutinize candidates

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Scrutinize candidates

The registration process for the June 2 nationwide gubernatorial and municipal races has come to a close. An average of 3.3 candidates are running for municipal mayoral posts, 3.2 for governor spots and 4.8 for education superintendent positions.

It won’t be easy for voters to find eligible candidates in the upcoming elections, as they will have to elect officials to eight public posts, which means they’ll have to spend quite a bit of time on research to make informed decisions.

But that shouldn’t scare voters. Indifference, after all, helps foster corruption.

Local elections are more important than those at the national level. Voters pick the people who will directly affect their lives and reflect their interests. These officials exert power in everything from awarding various business licenses to spearheading neighborhood projects, and they have access to huge budgets.

Education superintendents, for instance, have immense authority over the direction of education in their spheres of influence. Choosing a candidate, therefore, is the same as choosing the type of education our children will receive.

Yet the screening process for elected officials in local government posts has been relatively lax compared to that of central government officials. Surveillance after they take office is equally weak. Voters must watch and supervise local elections to make the roots of democracy stronger and improve the quality of their everyday lives.

Newspapers and TV broadcasters cannot provide comprehensive information on all the candidates. So each voter must scrutinize the candidate packages the election commission sends to every household.

According to the portfolios candidates submitted to the election commission, there are a large number of unqualified people running for posts this time around. Some - including several who are relatively wealthy individuals - have not paid any taxes over the past several years.

Many have been exempted from military service. All of this information is included in the candidate packages. Quite a number of the candidates also have criminal records. They likely have plenty of excuses, but we don’t want to imagine what people with past criminal offenses like physical violence, bribery, forgery, fraud and tax evasion will do when they command public offices.

We should not cast a vote for these people without checking their records and listening to their stories. Voters must examine the campaign promises carefully.

We must make an effort to do so, because it is a low price to pay to make our neighborhoods better places in which to live.

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