Candidates for political office make all kinds of promises and pledges. Sometimes they pledge to reduce taxes. Often, they pledge to create jobs, reduce crime, or bring about any number of other good outcomes.
The League of Women Voters of Clark County is asking candidates in this year’s Aug. 3 primary and Nov. 2 general elections to do something simpler, but perhaps much more meaningful.
We are asking them to pledge to run fair campaigns.
All of us — voters, the candidates, and our community as a whole — are better served when candidates emphasize their qualifications and positions rather than attack their opponents.
That’s why the 101-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit League of Women Voters of Clark County is urging candidates to engage in positive campaigns and avoid unfair attacks on their opponents. The pledge also calls on candidates to refrain from making distortions or misrepresentations as they seek your support.
The foundation of the pledge is respect, and the intent and language are straightforward and reasonable.
“Every candidate for public office has an obligation to observe and uphold basic principles of decency, honesty and fair play in order that, after a vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaign, citizens may exercise their constitutional right to a free and informed choice,” reads its introduction. “Public office is a public trust.”
The fair-campaign project creates an independent five-member panel to hear complaints from candidates or voters who believe a candidate is violating the pledge. A complaint that results in a finding that a candidate who signed the pledge has violated it may be reported to the media.
This year the League of Women Voters has produced a colorful logo that candidates can affix to their campaign materials, including their social media pages. Displaying the logo tells a voter the candidate is serious about taking the higher road.
We are fortunate to have the support for this project from the office of Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, who oversees elections in the county. As each candidate filed to run, the auditor’s office provided a copy of the league-produced pledge, which candidates were asked to return to the League of Women Voters of Clark County. (The pledge and a packet detailing the project can be found on the league website at lwvclarkcounty.org).
With more than 60 candidates competing for 19 positions in the August primary, there is no shortage of people who can choose to conduct themselves ethically.
Fair-campaign pledge requests aren’t new by any means. Many LWV chapters throughout the country, including the Clark County chapter, as well as other good-government groups routinely urge candidates to take the high road.
But with the country experiencing growing political polarization, this seems like a most appropriate time to call for less fractious campaigns — and for all of us to show the utmost of respect to one another.
Nancy Halvorson is president of the League of Women Voters of Clark County. Judie Stanton is the organization’s Candidate Forum Committee chair.