Sept. 20, 2016
Guest Blog: Voting Down Ballot
This is my first experience running for political office and one of the greatest challenges I have faced is…no one seems to care! It’s not from a lack of being a charismatic or engaging candidate, or even from a lack of education or experience, but rather because the race is facing a deficit of turmoil and drama. How then do I convince people to push through all of the hotly contested races and finish the ballot? How do I convince them each vote for every office counts?
I am currently running for the office of Sheriff of Harvey County. I often ask crowds to think for a moment why this political race is important. Sure, those running for state office have it easy when they ask this question – immediately, tax reform, Medicaid expansion, and school funding jump to their minds – but why is the Sheriff’s race important? Isn’t one cop just as good as another? I submit the answer is, “No.”
While those running for state office have the chance to craft law, the chief law enforcement officer of a county gets to set policy. This may seem subtle and nuanced, but it is of great importance. Robert Kennedy famously wrote, “While it may be true that every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves, what is equally important and true is every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”
Do you support programs in a county jail which seek to enable citizens to prevent their own re-entry, or prefer a punitive justice system which 40 years of data shows actually leads to higher rates of re-offense? Do you support problem-oriented/community based solutions, or broken window-based tactics like “stop and frisk”? The simple fact of the matter is policing culture and the level of professionalism is a direct reflection of what leadership either condones or allows.
By extension, as voters, it is a reflection of what you will condone or allow. If we want to reform the culture of law enforcement in our nation and redefine how they interact with our communities, we have to start with strong leadership. If we want to impact our community, we have to educate ourselves and pay attention to the local races, as the people we elect in our communities will have more impact on our day-to-day lives than we could ever imagine. The importance of completing the ballot cannot be understated. I ask that everyone take the time to fully participate in crafting the future of our nation and community on November 8th, by voting in each contest available to them.
Bryan L. Hall
Candidate for Harvey County Sheriff