OPINION COLUMNS

Wise Republicans do citizens a disservice

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, February 13, 2016
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I was disappointed to learn that the Wise County Republican Party will not be having a candidate forum prior to the March 1 primary election.

There are four contested races on the ballot: sheriff, Precinct 1 commissioner, Precinct 3 commissioner and Precinct 2 constable.

To not have a forum is a disservice to voters. They need to see candidates side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder fielding questions from citizens before making their final choice.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

Meeting a candidate face-to-face makes a huge difference. I know. I’ve met them all.

And I wish every voter was afforded the same opportunity.

Each candidate was interviewed by the Messenger (either by me or Brian Knox), and they shared their reasons for running for office and goals if elected. The candidates have bought advertising, and we’ve seen their faces in the Messenger’s own Hats in the Ring.

But this makes for a one-sided conversation.

Although Brian and I asked them questions weighing on the newsroom’s collective mind, there are certainly individuals with concerns specific to their precinct or hometown that warrant attention. It’s also valuable to be able to ask a question of one candidate and then immediately hear his or her opponent’s response.

Whoever wins will be taking a public office, so why not put them before the public? It’s important to see how they interact with their opponents and other elected officials. How do they respond to tough questions? Do they remain calm and level-headed, or are they quick to lose their temper?

It would be a shame to cast your vote for a candidate only to learn later that they lack the knowledge required for the position or are ineffective communicators, unable to adequately represent their constituents.

The local parties should promote their candidates and at the same time make sure voters are informed before going to the polls.

Most candidates have their own meet-and-greets and fundraising events, and while those are good opportunities to interact with these folks, voters still don’t get the benefit of seeing the candidates together. Plus, these events often feel more like private parties, which is intimidating for some citizens if they don’t already know the candidate in some other capacity.

The Wise County Republicans hosted the Red Gala in January, which was open to the public – for a price. These types of events exclude the average citizen, catering to the die-hard party supporters. I understand these events are integral to fundraising and a fun social event for some.

But at the end of the day, it’s a pep rally and shouldn’t replace a true candidate forum.

To the credit of the Paradise Chamber of Commerce, they held a candidate meet-and-greet Feb. 1, and the Greater Runaway Bay Alliance is hosting an event Feb. 22, focusing on Precinct 4 and countywide races (i.e. sheriff, tax assessor-collector). The Decatur Chamber of Commerce is also planning a candidate event.

I’m glad to see local entities taking an interest in the upcoming election and appreciate their efforts to inform citizens, but where is the Republican Party?

Apparently they’re taking the easy road, which in the end is a disservice to not only the citizens of Wise County, but also their own candidates.

Kristen Tribe is editor of the Messenger.

One Response to “Wise Republicans do citizens a disservice”

  1. Donald Drain says:

    Kristen;
    I Read your article and I agree that the working class voters have some choices to make. I watch all of the races and am wondering why the Republicans are not giving the challengers a chance to be seen and heard also. I know that the encumbents are heard in the Traveling Commissioners Court which is a year around campaign for the encumbents. I just wonder if the Republicans are protecting their encumbents. I also wonder if the Wise County Republican is so complacent that they feel that they are in such control of the people of Wise County Citizens that they are taking them for granted. I also want to Remind The People of Wise County that they are going to have a Choice in not only the Primary but they will have Choices in the November Also.
    There will Choices in Wise County this year and I would like to see all of Wise County take a look at their Choices in the Elections this Year.
    Don Drain
    Newark Texas

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