It’s election time and we’re flooded with endless news coverage, TV advertisements, bulk mail, robo calls and emails all supporting various candidates and ideas. All of it can be overwhelming and exhausting.
However, please don’t allow the massive marketing of the major races to overshadow other important races such as those of local judges and clerks of court! As an attorney I know how critical they are. If you or a loved one has ever been faced with a legal case, you’ll also know the impact these offices have on our lives in a very direct way.
As an example, imagine standing before a judge in a family law matter and having them tell you how much time you will be able to spend with your children, how much support you will pay or receive, what will happen to your life savings or home after a divorce. Do you want just anyone making those decisions?
Think about friends or relatives that have to go through a foreclosure, criminal case, dependency, domestic violence or business dispute. Chances are good you’ll be standing before an elected official who will have a massive impact on those cases and your future.
Hopefully you will never have to go through a legal dispute, but even if you don’t, there is a good chance someone you know, or love, will. What kind of qualities do you want from someone have that kind of influence on the lives of those you care most about?
Also think about your local courthouse staff. If you have to go to the courthouse for one of many routine reasons like to get a marriage certificate, passport, pay a traffic ticket, file a deed or various legal disputes. Do you want to receive service by a knowledgeable, friendly and helpful person or do you want to spend the day running around getting nowhere and having to come back over and over because you got bad information? The clerk of court is the person responsible for the operation of the courthouse and their ability to lead and manage their team will have a big impact on you!
It’s no joke. I know these public offices aren’t glamorous and we all have limited time, so here are some meaningful things you do to prepare for these races.
- Look over your sample ballot
- Know what you will be voting on. Who is running.
- Read the candidates websites. Often your sample ballot will have links to the candidate’s website. Is the website professional? Do they seem like responsible people? Do they sound like someone who will treat you with respect, listen to your case, understand the law, have good temperament and be compassionate?
- Read local newspaper summaries and endorsements.
- Research candidates online (not just their website) – what is being said about them?
- Talk to friends. Have they heard of them or had a case with them?
Often it is hard to research these people deeply and our time is limited. However, I can assure you that if you, or a loved one ever finds yourself in a position to be standing in from of them in court, or having the use the services of a courthouse, you’ll want someone sitting in front of you who know the law, listens, and respects you and the gravity of what are going through.