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Cast your ballot for the person, not the party

Oct. 06, 2012 @ 01:09 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in contested races in the Nov. 6 general election.

As the autumn season approaches, complete with the fall colors that make up our beautiful state, we are reminded of the approaching election just weeks away. So much to do to prepare for election day when your vote will help decide who will be representing you for the next two, four or six years, a lot of time to hand over to someone whose vote can determine the course for the city, county, state and country. And a lot of critical issues that affect all of us and our families. One must be keenly aware of who you are electing and why he/she would be the best choice.

Many years ago while doing an internship with a law firm for a college course, I was assigned a case in a West Virginia county and it was during a presidential election year.

After speaking to a group of local citizens, one gentleman approached me and asked if I'd be voting and of course I responded yes. He went on to, albeit carefully, ask whom I would be voting for.

I told him that I looked at the candidates' records if they were an incumbent, and asked questions about how they would vote on the issues and then voted for the person, not the party, that would best help the state or community.

To my surprise he moved very close to me and whispered, "You will go to jail; you can't mix up your vote." Imagine my shock that this gentleman was so uninformed that he probably voted for someone he didn't know and maybe didn't even want to include. But the very act of exercising his right could affect all of our lives.

Why would I be writing about this now? Because I vehemently believe education is a key to getting West Virginia "up and running" and this has only been more enhanced with me talking to citizens. It has made me keenly aware of where we need to start with us voters. And just recently another candidate told of a similar experience, and I too have encountered this on my campaign trail.

My question is: Why give away your options to choose who represents you? By pulling a "straight ticket" you've included people that you may not have wanted to vote for and certainly people that you probably know nothing about.

For instance, do you know how your representative voted on taxing Social Security benefits? Did he/she vote to eliminate taxes or continue tax benefits for the seniors whose income levels are already challenged?

Did he/she vote for the West Virginia version of the Cap & Trade bill that will do away with coal mining jobs and ultimately raise all our electricity rates?

Did your representative vote "no" on voter ID laws when this very act of having some identification could eliminate much of the voter fraud that smacks us all in the heart of our integrity? And I do not find the argument of disenfranchisement very compelling because identification is required when I purchase OTC allergy medications.

So many tools are available to us through technology such as email, websites and phones it is easy to contact those seeking office and to review voting records.

Make a "task list" of important issues to you, such as educating our children and why we are consistently ranked low in the nation in many important categories. Some of mine are listed here. Make up your own critical list and hold our feet to the fire -- things grow better in warmer weather.

1. Increase job growth.

2. Reduce excessive taxes on businesses to encourage expansion and new business growth.

3. Fix the education system.

4. Stop EPA's efforts to shut down coal mining jobs -- the proverbial "cap and trade."

5. Reduce drug-related crimes.

6. Continue programs that address child abuse.

7. Educate voters on issues.

8. Work with city, county and state governments to effectively develop plans that focus on overlapping issues.

9. Address health care accessibility for those uninsured.

10. Eliminate taxes on senior citizens' Social Security benefits

Your vote is your voice. Let's speak loudly together.

Joyce Holland, a resident of Huntington, is a Republican candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 17th District.

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