Citizen Harry: Six questions to ask yourself before you vote

By Harry Gatjens

As I stare at my ballot, I need to come up with some way to evaluate the candidates before I vote. So I ask myself the following six questions, and thought I’d share them with you.

1.  Do you trust this person?

Easy to know what to do here if the answer is no. No vote and move on. But the issue is, I am tired of politicians who say one thing and then do another. Listen carefully to what the candidates say and then research to see if it matches what they do.

2.   Does this person understand the financials of the City?

While I don’t think you need to be an accountant to serve on the Council or be Mayor, if the candidate can’t understand the financial condition of the City how can he or she be expected to spend our money wisely? The financials aren’t that complicated and if candidates don’t know how to read them, they should make sure to get someone to help them. Don’t forgo this critical responsibility.

3.   Does their vision for the City work with yours?

While we don’t need to agree on every issue. the people we elect should share some common interests as to what Edmonds is all about.  Do we want to be a gambling Mecca? A tourist town? An industrial complex? Whatever you feel is right for the future of the city, try to find candidates who are on the same wavelength as you

4.   Will they represent all of Edmonds or just their own special interest?

While we all want to be represented and have our views take priority, remember that there are 40,000 other people who have needs too. Don’t be selfish, vote for candidates who can weigh and balance the needs of all.

5.    Can they play well with others?

The Council is made up of seven members. The Mayor has to work with the Council. It doesn’t matter if any one of these candidates is the smartest person in the world if he or she can’t get others to go along with an ideas. Lots of good concepts will not be carried out if  your candidate is always on the losing end of 6-1 votes. Try to find candidates that can persuade others of the merits of their ideas and to go along with them and get something accomplished.

6.  Are they open to input from the citizens?

This is a new question I came up with after watching the Council closely for the past 18 months. One of the current councilmembers — I’ll call this person Councilmember A — surprised me. I had often disagreed with this councilmember, yet this was the only one who read and responded to my inquiries and suggestions. Sometimes Councilmember A took my suggestions and often A did not, but at least A explained to me why or why not. Councilmembers will never agree with your ideas 100 percent of the time, but if they listen and then have a good reason for what they decide, I can respect that.

That is how I am approaching this election. I am sure that not all of the candidates I vote for will win, but I will have done my best to get what I consider good quality people in our local government.

Edmonds resident “Citizen Harry” Gatjens provides regular reports to My Edmonds News on the workings of the Edmonds city government and the city budget.


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