Local election time is just around the corner. Financial advisors often get asked by clients how politics will affect their finances. These questions usually come during Presidential or Congressional election years but rarely are people asking how local elections will affect their finances. Decisions made by local officials have more direct impact to your daily lives, so you should not dismiss them as unimportant.
We are now in the home stretch for all those local councilmen and mayoral races. When most of us vote for a President or Senator, we often vote based on party affiliation. Whether they are a Republican, Democrat, or other party, we believe that their affiliation to that party means they think or feel the way we do. But local politics are not about Parties. They are just about people.
These candidates are often time our friends or neighbors. While we may disagree on how we achieve some issues, for the most part they want the same things we do: a better, safer, more connected community. Voting for these individuals becomes much more difficult, as we really have to know what the person is like. For that reason, these are traits you should look for in local candidates.
Look for honesty. Observe whether the candidate has upheld the commitments they've made in the past. Someone who is consistent is more likely to trustworthy.
We live in a world where it is really easy to communicate to the community. Some local officials do a good job at this, but often the silence from officials is deafening. Lack of communication leaves room for the public to interpret what a candidate is thinking, which may not always be accurate.
Evalutate if the candidate is just reacting to situations, or is forward-thinking. Look around the community at what needs to be done. This can be a hard one if they do not know what they are looking for, so a candidate who is listening to the residents on what they need is a good trait to look for.
Someone who has the will to make that tough decision even if it means it will make them unpopular. Doing the right thing not the popular thing.
Just because this may only be a part time job, candidates have to be available to those that got them elected.
Respect to the residents, the business owners, and the local government employees because without all three of those groups, they would not have a job.
Someone who listens more than they talk is just a good idea in any job. Make sure the candidate is listening to both sides of an issue.
Be willing to change
We all have our own ideas, but it is the representative that can put aside their personal views for the greater good of the community they are representing.
This person was hired to lead. If they are not using their position to achieve the goals they set out to do do, then maybe this isn't the right job for them.
At the end of the day, you're voting for a candidate because you think they're the best person to hold political office. Making that assessment involves thinking through a lot of factors about who the candidate is, what they stand for, and how they will impact the community you live in.