A primer for public service

July 28, 2022

By: Jacquelyn D. Heath
Special to The Milwaukee Times

With the 2022 Wisconsin primary election date set for August 9 – less than two weeks from now –and in-person, early voting locations available as of July 26, registered voters have the opportunity to cast a ballot for their chosen candidates. The pool of possibilities will be pared down for political offices ranging from local/municipal government posts to state-wide races for governor, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, as well as referenda on a variety of issues needing public input.

In Wisconsin, if you are or will be at least 18 years old by Election Day, are a U.S. citizen, legally reside in the state, can provide a valid photo ID, and are not currently incarcerated, or on probation or parole (think about that, hello…), you can register and vote – in person or by absentee ballot – up until 8 p.m., on Election Day.

Voting and elections are serious business. Never mind that the actual process of voting takes only a few minutes; the results of this action can have consequences that last for generations. For example, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice is appointed by a president who can serve for up to eight years. However, the justice, once confirmed, serves a lifetime appointment, unless removed by death, resignation or retirement, or impeachment for misconduct. Just imagine all the possible scenarios that can be considered, decided and enacted over a lifetime term, not to mention the legions of lives affected. So, voting does matters; you are exercising your responsibility as a citizen. That impact escalates exponentially if you are seeking to become a public servant by representing and articulating the needs and goals of others through the political process.

Constitutionally speaking, there are few guidelines or qualifications – other than minimum age and citizenship – that are required to run for political office. Ready name recognition and having more money than God have also worked in helping candidates to capture public office, especially in recent years. However, if political office equates to public service (in other words, it’s NOT all about you), more factors should be scrutinized to determine “the measure” of a man or woman in the political arena.

The following attributes are offered for your consideration as you approach the ballot box, either as a candidate or as a voter, to wade through all the momentary promises and photogenic faces, consider your options, and evaluate the “what, why and how” behind the “who.” Think of this list as a primer, of sorts, for public service.

Character – Moral or ethical strength or weakness. The way a person thinks, behaves and believes, whether good or bad; reputation.

Compassion – Consideration for others’ pain, sorrow, misfortune or other attributes that may lead one to help their fellow humans or other creatures.

Consistency – Keeping to the same principles and habits.

Duty – Conscious of obligation; the thing that one ought to do; a compelling or binding force of what is right.

Facts – Things known to be true or to have actually happened; reality. • Fairness – Just, impartial, not favoring one thing over another to take advantage of a circumstance; giving equal time and consideration.

Forthright – Frank, outspoken, straightforward, direct, without a hidden agenda.

Faith – What a person believes IN, usually without evidence or proof; one’s personal doctrine.

Honesty – Not utilizing lies, cheating or stealing; obtaining needs or goals by fair means.

Integrity – Based on sincerity, honesty; the state of being unbroken and or upright.

Interest – Namely, being able to recognize a vested interest versus a conflict of interest, and how each of these can affect the people you represent, as well as you as their representative; knowing the difference between the two.

Principle – A truth that is a foundational concept or tenet for other truths; a guiding rule of action or conduct.

Truth – Supported by and agreeing with facts; not false, fake or contrived.

These attributes are offered for your consideration and review, with the understanding that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes; but with any luck, most of our errors will be unintentional and not lethal to anyone. Our goal is not to tell you what to think…but to challenge you to exercise your brain and think for yourself, period.

Check with your election board for specific details on voting that may apply in your locale. Happy voting, everyone.

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