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Rosanita Ratcliff Writes 10 ways to vet a candidate

Top 10 Ways to Vet a Candidate

I’m sure there are other ways to vet candidates. How do you vet political candidates? What’s most important to you when deciding between them? Comment below.

1. Think about your own values and how you envision the future. Ask yourself what issues are most important to you, how you think problems could be resolved, and what is it that you want from an elected official.

2. Learn about the roles and responsibilities of each elected office. What can they legally in that role? What is their job description? Pretend that you’re an employer (cuz you are in this case) and think about what questions you would ask a candidate in a job interview for this role.

3. Read their campaign platform and do it more than once during the election cycle. Go to their campaign website, click on their issues/platform page and read what it has to say. What issues are they covering? Have they updated their platform to add or delete information? Is it consistent with what they’re saying online, at rallies, and in interviews? Are their solutions feasible and within the scope of the office they want to inhabit? Sign up for their emails and see what they have to say in their newsletters.

4. Do a quick background check. What was the candidate’s profession? That should be on their campaign website. If not, check out LinkedIn. If they owned a company, look at GlassDoor for how current and former workers rate that company. Were they successful in that? Do they volunteer? What’s their CV/resume? Do they have the skills necessary to be good in that role or will it be too much of a learning curve? If one of the responsibilities is to appoint board and committee members (think transportation boards, parent advisory councils, planning commissions), do they have the knowledge and background to make sound choices?

5. Do a news search and see what pops up. Have papers, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, news stations interviewed them? We’re not talking paid ads or sponsored posts. Were they invited to comment on issues or interviewed about their campaign? If so, was it by a reputable source? This is called earned media. In earned media, the candidate can’t/shouldn’t give rehearsed answers. It should be a dialogue or maybe an article about the candidate that uses other news sources. Hint: if it’s about them violating campaign finance laws, that’s bad earned media.

6. Check their online presence. Look at their social media accounts. Where can you find them online? What are they saying? Are they interacting with commenters? Does it sound like the candidate, or does it sound like a volunteer?

7. Watch candidate forums and debates. How do they interact with other candidates? Are they giving full answers or just sexy soundbites? Are they answering the question or going off-topic?

8. Look at their endorsements. Who are their campaign surrogates? Are they people/groups who share your common values?

9. Check their campaign finances. Who is donating to them? Who is their biggest donor? Who else do their donors support? What other candidates, PACs, ballot measures?

10. Look up their voting record. I don’t mean if they voted in previous elections (though that is possible to find, and you would be surprised how many candidates didn’t vote before running for office themselves). While holding office, did they vote on issues important to you? How did they vote? Did they sponsor or cosponsor legislation?

Do you have something to add to the list? How do you decide who to vote for? Let us know!

Read More from Rosanita on her Substack, Long on Civics


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