As elections near, voters should take ownership of special opportunity

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Over the next nine months, Georgia and its counties and cities will see election contests for their executive, legislative and judicial offices.

In the executive branch, there will be races not only for governor, but also for secretary of state, attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, state school superintendent, our local mayor’s office and many sheriffs’ offices. In the legislative branch we’ll see a dynamic race for an open U.S. Senate seat as well as contests for the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislature, county commission posts and boards of education. In the judicial branch many judgeships are on the ballot, too.

AS CITIZENS OF A democracy, each of us should welcome the election process and pledge never to fail to vote in the primary elections as well as the general elections and runoffs. Whenever citizens forgo the right to vote, our communities are denied the opportunity to install the most capable people to serve our communities.

Many citizens will offer themselves as candidates for the first time, and some will be vying again for an opportunity to serve. Regardless of political experience, the process of campaigning for public office is daunting – not only for the candidate but also for those who love and support them. The challenge stimulates the full panoply of human emotions, including fear, newfound courage, doubt and determination.

THE ENCOURAGEMENT of friends and family is the source of the candidate’s strength in seemingly endless campaigns that can bring physical and emotional fatigue. But a perception of campaigns as the competitive equivalent of guerrilla warfare is not very accurate. Competition and adversity frequently create a unique and lasting bond among opponents in political races. It is quite common that they learn mutual respect and develop abiding friendships. Perhaps that revelation will prepare the candidates and their supporters to avoid unnecessary hyperbole during the upcoming campaigns.

Although potential voters may disagree with candidates or their platforms (those who choose not to vote are not entitled to an opinion), we always should remember that every candidate performs a valuable service by causing the issues to be considered and discussed. Through the campaigns of all candidates – the winners and those who will be disappointed – our democracy is awakened, and we gain a fresh appreciation for the dignity of one another. While candidates may find it necessary to strike hard blows, there is never an excuse for striking foul blows.

Diligent candidates commonly approach those who have been elected to office for advice about the process. In that way they learn from experience of others where to concentrate their efforts, avoid mistakes and best use campaign funds. In my experience, elected officials always have been accommodating and generous with advice, even if that advice may not be what the candidate expected.

There are two things that “first-timers” should know about such conversations.

FIRST, ELECTED officials who serve the same constituents as the candidate in a contested election always try to honor those constituents. It is very uncommon to find an elected official outwardly campaigning for a candidate for another office for the obvious reason that his or her constituents may strongly support the candidate’s opponent, unnecessarily interfusing the issues of one office or branch of government with another. The reluctance of an elected official to openly endorse a candidate has nothing to do with the respect for the candidate, but instead reflects the respect the elected official has for his or her constituents and the office he or she serves.

Second, Georgia’s judges are prohibited by the Code of Judicial Conduct from publicly endorsing a candidate for public office; soliciting funds or making contributions to a political organization; or purchasing tickets for political party dinners. When the judge is a candidate, the judge may attend political gatherings and speak to such gatherings on his own behalf. I’m sure I speak for every judge in saying that we welcome conversations with candidates and potential candidates, but that willingness to offer advice and encouragement should not be confused with an endorsement that would violate our Judicial Code of Conduct.

I FREQUENTLY TELL those considering a run for office that they should do it if, after consulting their families, they can commit to the grueling campaign and, once elected, to the highest level of service to the offices they seek. In the process, they will learn a lot about themselves and they will undoubtedly grow from the experience.

I now encourage voters to take ownership of the election process that is theirs, thereby dignifying our Constitution and those who have given their lives and their treasure to ensure that it endures.

(The writer – a former district attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit – has been a superior court judge in the circuit since 2008.)

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teaparty
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teaparty 01/19/14 - 10:16 am
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"AS CITIZENS OF A
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"AS CITIZENS OF A democracy"
We are a Republic so far but the laws that are supposed to protect this country are being ignored. We have lasted this long because of our constitution, But the piece of garbage in the Whitehouse is destroying it.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/19/14 - 10:53 am
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Our elected officials do not know our form of government.
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They do not care. Just more propaganda from talking heads.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/19/14 - 10:54 am
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A little press exposure for Mr Graig. The vote counters, folks.
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A little press exposure for Mr Graig. The vote counters, folks.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/19/14 - 10:55 am
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Voters do not count. Vote counters are important.
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Voters do not count. Vote counters are important.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 01/19/14 - 10:56 am
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As elections near, you realize your vote counts for nothing.
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The destruction of the USA continues through ignorance and apathy.

dade30906
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dade30906 01/19/14 - 02:50 pm
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Democrats Can't Win Without Black Voters.

The turnout for African Americans will be the pivotal difference in electing Democratics back to office in Georgia, which Republicans won every public office in 2010,even including the governor, attorney general, labor commissioner, state school superintendent and Secretary of State. In 2014, it's real. Stakes are high Black voters will be the definitive difference between the government - shutdown gridlock we've had to tolerate and the epically disastrous, can't - get - anything- done gridlock we will have with Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress. Despite all the hype about Latino voters and the snarky pundits snorting at black - electorate value, the number show that black - voter turnout can help Democrats in November elections. In the mean while, Georgia has 31 percent black population and 62 percent black - voter turnout rate. Credible contender and Democrat Michelle Nunn can actually pull this thing off against Republican incumbent Sen. Zaxby Chambliss by simply going all in with a black - voter population that's 13 percent of all registered voters in the state.

teaparty
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teaparty 01/19/14 - 04:43 pm
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" Despite all the hype about
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" Despite all the hype about Latino voters and the snarky pundits snorting at black - electorate value, the number show that black - voter turnout can help Democrats in November elections."
I agree but with the new laws hopefully democrats will only be able to vote one time per person.

Darby
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Darby 01/19/14 - 06:34 pm
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"Credible contender and Democrat Michelle Nunn

can actually pull this thing off against Republican incumbent Sen. Zaxby Chambliss by simply going all in with a black - voter population that's 13 percent of all registered voters in the state."

.
Duh... Dade30906... You might want to come in out of the cold. Saxby (Not Zaxby, the chicken folks) is NOT RUNNING for reelection. That's the ONLY reason Michelle Nunn has her hat in the ring!

One more thing... Black Republicans, like white Republicans will turn out in off year elections. (Probably because they don't spend a lot of time fixating on skin color.)

Getting black Democrats out to vote in a non-presidential election is like selling snow to Eskimos.

Just wondering.... how long have you been following politics?

myfather15
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myfather15 01/20/14 - 08:56 am
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Darby

"Just wondering.... how long have you been following politics?"

Obviously, not very long!! But it appears, dade has been following racial division, much longer!! Especially on THIS DAY, what ever happened to;

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Why is it, even with Dr. King's vision, race must be brought into the discussion constantly? Why do people feel the need to say "We need to get out black voters"? Why not just say "We need to get out voters" for this candidate or that candidate? Who is it that is always throwing out race into these discussions?

Why can't we just vote for the PERSON who we believe is best for the job, regardless of the color of their skin? Shouldn't ALL people do this? I personally believe that Allen West should run for President in 2016!! Do I believe this because of the color of his skin? For those that would believe this, I have some words for you, but I can't use them on here!!

I believe this because I've listened to this man!! He is a TRUE WARRIOR!! An actual Veteran, that I believe we need to get back too!! He uses common sense!! He has high morals and standards!! Behind him, I would probably support Dr. Ben Carson, only giving West more support because of his military service!!

I'm growing very tired of the race baiters!! We are told we are too look past the color of ones skin, but it appears they NEVER CAN and never will!!

Darby
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Darby 01/21/14 - 02:11 am
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"Behind him, I would probably support Dr. Ben Carson,

only giving West more support because of his military service!!"

.
Like you, myfather15, I'd vote for West in a New York minute. I'd even go door to door during the campaign for him. I doubt that's he's considering a run this time around.

On the other hand, I'd vote for Carson IF he were on the ballot, but I fear he could never be elected due to his lack of executive or other leadership credentials.

Granted, Dr. Carson is a courageous and highly moral man, but he's shown virtually no ability organize political support or to get people to follow him. If anything, he seems to be waiting for a "draft Carson" movement which I don't see on the horizon.

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