Politics: Meet your candidates

by Judy Ferro

I’ve actually had two voters—both professional women—tell me they had never met a candidate before.

Both times I wanted to come up with a funny line. Maybe, “You mean today, right? You haven’t met one yet today?” Or “Funny, you look pretty normal.”

What I did say was simply, “Meeting candidates isn’t difficult–they work pretty hard at meeting you.”

I’m hoping that you all met a few candidates over the Fourth of July weekend. They were in parades, at booths, on stages—and one or two might have found your favorite lake or fishing hole. You can even find candidates in your own backyard. When Dan Romero was running, his granddaughter—about six years old—visited every Fourth of July barbecue in the neighborhood and came back with three invitations for grandpa to “meet and greet.”

Campaigns may seem low-key from now until the yard signs come out after Labor Day, but the candidates are out there talking with voters. For instance, yesterday Shirley Ringo, former state senator and current candidate for the U.S. House, joined district 12 senate candidate Heidi Knittel in talking with folks at Nampa’s Messenger Pizza.

Gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff has invited Facebook fans to a conference call Tuesday from 6 to 7.

Wednesday District 10 candidates Travis Manning and Leif Skyving are teaming up for a meet-and-greet at the Bird Stop Coffee House, 718 Arthur, Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

And those attending the Canyon County Democrats’ fundraiser Saturday will get some one-on-one time with a number of legislative and state candidates. The picnic at the home of Les and Mary Peck starts at 5 p.m. and includes a barbecued pork dinner and live auction. (Call 454-8742 for information.)

In coming weeks you may chat with candidates at the Canyon County Fair or while waiting in line at a rodeo breakfast. Expect to find them cooking hamburgers and hot dogs at Labor Day celebrations and helping out at Caldwell’s Indian Creek Festival.

And don’t be surprised if one or two show up at your door.

Do meet the candidates. Voting for one you haven’t talked with is a like buying clothes from a catalog—sometimes you get what you wanted; other times the fabric is too flimsy or the color all wrong. You can’t tell everything from one or two visits, but you can get a better idea than from a web page or flyer.

Arrogance and a patronizing manner are real turn-offs.

No candidate should simply recite portions of the campaign speech when talking to you. The speech has to be fairly canned—the candidate wants a clear message—but be wary if he or she doesn’t listen and respond to questions.

You want a candidate who looks at problems honestly and discusses nuances. Few issues are good versus evil; many are good versus good.   Understanding the balance can be more important than agreeing with you 100%.

And I personally look for candidates with a sense of humor who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Most important, expect a candidate to be truthful. When my nephew asked one state senator why a bill hadn’t passed, he blamed the Democrats for killing it. Andy was quick to reply, “All four of them or a particular one?” (Yes, we were down to four Democratic state senators at one point.)

And logical. Cutting spending doesn’t increase jobs and making contraceptives less available doesn’t cut abortions.

Be a good citizen and give candidates the courtesy of a job interview. Idaho deserves the best.

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