Time and again, South Carolinians have seen grossly unqualified candidates run for office and then sometimes win and hold highly specialized statewide positions.
And time and again, we hear justifiable complaints about their performance, behavior and accomplishments, and the same refrains: “Throw them out!” “No more career politicians!” “They are incompetent!” “They are self-serving!”
And what happens? We elect new unqualified politicians or re-elect the same ineffective ones and get the same results.
Fish fries, parades and BBQ fundraisers shouldn’t be the trademarks of successful campaigning. Elections shouldn’t be popularity contests. Some criteria must be set.
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Candidates ought to have the educational background and intellect relevant to the office they are seeking. It would be natural for a candidate who runs for superintendent of education to have a degree in education, public policy or financial management, along with experience in the public school classroom. The comptroller general should be a licensed and experienced certified public accountant, just as the attorney general should be an experienced attorney with high marks from the S.C. Bar.
Voters have the right to know whether the candidates understand the role of government, and its mandate to serve the people for the benefit of the people and not for personal aggrandizement.
South Carolinians have a civic responsibility to vet candidates before we hire them. And candidates ought to be required to meet certain criteria concerning experience and expertise in the fields of the offices they are running for.