Blog Post: Can We Just Elect Someone Without An Arrest Record?

Should we elect officials who have an arrest record?

I guess nothing should surprise me anymore. But when I read an article in the L.A. Times about six California legislators running for office even though they all have arrest records, my heart sank a little.

Through the years I've lowered my expectations of politicians and have become jaded about even the best. It just seems that mistresses, shady money deals, misuse of public funds, etc etc is now the standard operating procedures for a certain type of politician. That's pretty sad.

The six legislators in the article are all still running for office. Of course, none of them are guilty yet of the crimes they've been accused of because they wisely postponed court dates until after the election. Technically, maybe we shouldn't just assume they are guilty until proven so. As voters do we give them the benefit of the doubt? One assemblyman, Tim Donnelly has admitted guilt already for being caught with a loaded fireman as he went through security at Ontario Airport. He forgot he had the weapon.  Aside from him, the rest of the Pols are pleading innocence. I hate to be cynical, but I'm not sure I'm willing to give any of them the benefit of the doubt.

I guess I still have too much idealism about the American system and the standards by which we should hold our leaders. I really like to think that the people we choose to lead us are a little better and smarter than the average person and have our best interests at heart.  It used to be that if a politician were arrested and even accused falsely of a crime, they'd either forfeit their office or pull out of an election. Now, apparently, it's full speed ahead no matter what.

It's not my place to judge these six "innocent" politicians. They may all prove to be exonerated of all charges. So what next? Do they still deserve our trust? Can we expect them to raise themselves up to higher ideals or will they just get better at hiding their hidden agendas and crimes?

California is not in a unique position. Virtually every other state has this problem with elected officials and the last statistic I read, several members of Congress are in some state of arrest, investigation of court case concerning the breaking of laws. As a voter who really just wants the best for his country, I'm really not sure where we go from here!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steven Hanson May 08, 2012 at 06:56 PM
All I'm deciding is that I have a right to put someone in a public office. My decision has to be based on their competency and character. If either is lacking, I have a right to vote against them. The Constitution provides that right. If other voters disagree with my assessment of a candidate and vote them into office, so be it.
Denise B. May 08, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Gary- Don't get your knickers in a twist. Just commenting on the trending, which I can support with poll data we have been collecting. Right or wrong, the way things are heading, the voters may choose not to elect those with even minor arrest records. We are just making general observations, not dictating how people should vote. What transpires in the public arena is dictated by the mood of the general voting population. My job is to measure and track the current mood. Who the voters elect is not of much interest to me, only the outcome and the events that led us to the end result. I think the case with the Sheriff in SF is an interesting case study and gives us a few clues where things may be heading. A few years ago, SF would have given him a pass on his anger management issues and he would still be in his job. For whatever reason, voters seem to be in an "off with their heads" mood. Not passing judgement on anyone, just observing. I am very much aware that it is only by the grace of God go I..... BTW-Don't give BK grief.... he writes the best blogs on The Patch and engages us all in interesting conversations or at least makes us think. For the record, I would give President Grant a pass for riding his horse too fast, unless it resulted in the fatality of an innocent victim. If that happened, I think we would have demanded, uncertain character or not, he be impeached.
Bill C. May 08, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Too many voters aren't smart enough to vote. They vote based on things they hear from the media, what a candidate looks like and party affiliation without doing any real investigation of voting records or how a candidate stands on matters of policy. Proof of that in California is how often we keep sending the same idiots back to Sacramento to supposedly fix problems they created.
Steven Hanson May 08, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Your tone may be a bit cynical, Bill...but I can't disagree with anything you wrote!
Denise B. May 09, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Well Mr. Bill- I like the fact that you and Ian just call a spade a spade and never apologize for doing so. I guess if we had more of that in Sacramento we would not find ourselves in our current situation.


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