Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I'm extremely disappointed in the depth of information that is being provided by most of the candidates running for public offices.
While most have specific portions of their websites dedicated to "issues," where they list some of the things that will be a priority for them if they get elected, few candidates from either major party offer much in the way of specifics.
In the past, I've heard the argument from candidates and their strategists that they didn't want to reveal too many specifics. For one, their opponents could quickly adopt the same strategies. But more often the concern is that opponents will rip apart any suggestion that a candidate might make.
Another argument is that until the candidate is actually elected, he or she doesn't know exactly what will need to be done, but they do know what their ultimate objectives and priorities are. That's a cop out, especially if your campaign platform rests squarely on tearing down the people who are already in office. If you think the ones in office are doing a bad job, and you could do it better, you should be confident enough to put your ideas out there. If you have no new ideas, why are you running for office?
Commissioner Richard Rothschild has a following of loyal supporters, and he has a similar following of opponents. Whether you agree with his stand on various issues or not, however, you have to give him credit for putting up a website that goes into great detail about the specific things he has done in the areas that are important to him.
On his website, one of his "five strategic promises" he offers up is "To 'Straight talk' with you. No word games- (I have no appetite for mealy-mouthed political speak)."
And while Rothschild's issues page on his website goes into great detail about the things he has done, unfortunately his example is a rare case. "Political speak," it seems, is rampant among candidates in Carroll.
In reviewing the issues portion of many of the candidates' websites, voters will find that most of the candidates have included some buzzwords and catch-phrases that they hope will motivate voters to cast a ballot for them. But for some candidates, catch-phrases and buzzwords are about the sum total of their campaign.
You have to wonder about what their motivations are for running and what they hope to get out of being elected if they either don't have any idea what they would do differently, or if they are too afraid to post their ideas for everyone to see.
At the county level, infrastructure, school funding, taxes, public safety, water and sewage, parks and recreation and quality of life have always been high on the list of concerns that people say they think are important. Scan the literature, listen to the speeches and browse the websites of the candidates, however, and with rare exception you will be hard-pressed to find any specific plans or ideas being put forward by any of the candidates.
The candidates for sheriff should be telling us how they are going to reduce crime. State's attorney candidates should be delving into the details of prosecutions, plea deals and programs designed to keep convicts from becoming repeat offenders.
School board candidates should be talking about the quality of education offered to students in Carroll, and the ideas they have for improving that without breaking the bank.
And our state level candidates seeking seats in the Senate and House of Delegates should be talking about curbing state spending and tax increases and, if they are Republican candidates, how they will work with the Democrats who hold majorities to ensure that rural Maryland isn't forgotten.
Sadly, these questions are going mostly unanswered. And it is shameful that we, as voters, have decided that all we need to decide our vote is name recognition, perhaps a few catch-phrases or buzzwords and little more than empty rhetoric to decide who we will be casting our ballots for.
Candidates for office are applying for a job, and the voting population, collectively, is the hiring manager. Would you hire someone off the street to manage your business - or your business finances - if all they did was offer up a few popular buzzwords and tell you they would do a good job?
Yet every election that's exactly what we do when we don't demand more from the job-seekers running for public office. Sometimes we get lucky and get the right person in the job. Just as often, we don't, and we're stuck with a bad employee until the next election cycle comes around.