Saturday, November 17, 2007

A challenge that a candidate may welcome: In Their Own Words

A lot of petition challenges have been filed, so for many judicial candidates "challenge" right now is a loaded term.

But I propose a different kind of challenge here.

My belief is that judicial primaries provide a rare opportunity -- too rare these days -- to actually vote for a candidate. In fact, I suspect that many readers will come to the conclusion that, in many races, there are many good choices.

The bar associations have begun to scrutinize the candidates' credentials. I hope that all serious candidates are participating in this process. But, in the final analysis, bar association recommendations can only show how the candidates are measured by their peers.

The special interest groups will now also begin to measure the candidates according to their own agendas. I mentioned recently the questionnaire put out by the Illinois Civil Justice League. I mentioned that one specifically because I have a link to it; I know there are others from all sides of the political spectrum. I'd be pleased to post links if anyone will share.

But my point is that it would be a shame if candidates allowed themselves to be framed by these questionnaires: It would be better if each candidate could present himself or herself as he or she thinks best.

And that is my challenge. I invite every judicial candidate in Cook County to send me an email. In 500 words or less, I would ask each candidate to say why he or she should be elected. I'm not asking anyone to compare themselves to any opponent. Recall the adage 'you don't make your own candle shine brighter by blowing on someone else's.' I'm asking each candidate to say why he or she is the best choice for the voters to make. I'll run what they write.

And a couple of weeks before the primary I'll set up wrap up posts -- I'll arrange "sample ballot" posts. Each candidate who participates will have their name shown as a link -- a link to that candidate's "In Their Own Words" post. That way, voters will be able to 'comparison shop' -- reading each candidate's post and making a truly informed decision about their vote.

I'll start putting up posts now -- as soon as they come in. Sure, the first ones that come in will be "buried" in the blog -- but the links on the "sample ballot" posts will take voters to each one. As a practical matter, I'll probably have to cut off these posts by early January so that I can get the "sample ballot" posts up and available in plenty of time for the primary.

This is a chance to make the stump speech most of us who've run for judge will never have a chance to make.

I know writing such an essay won't be an easy task: As lawyers, we're used to advocating for a client -- for someone else. It's not as easy to talk about ourselves.

But I am tired of hearing about how no one knows who to vote for on the judicial ballot. I know candidates want to be heard; I know that there are limited outlets.

I offer this as one. If it's presumptuous of me to do make this offer -- well, it probably is.

Any takers?

Candidates: Just so you can gauge what your post will look like on this page, the post above to the dotted line is 543 words.

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