The value of endorsements for political candidates | Chuck Parrish
September 22, 2011 · 7:19 PM
Do endorsements of candidates for office in Tukwila really mean anything?
Answer: Very little. Public officials often engage in mutual “back scratching.” You support me in my campaign and I will support you in yours. Or, we go way back and I have to support that person. Another: This candidate asked for my support and the other did not.
Another: I just don’t like that other candidate so I am endorsing this one.
Another: I honestly believe that this is the best candidate. All of these are normal and typical. The problem is that voters have no idea what is behind the endorsement and if it really tells them something about the candidate.
We have a similar challenge with endorsements to candidates by our collective bargaining units (union and guild). I am and have always been a strong supporter of collective bargaining rights. Police officers and firefighters hold an exalted position in our community and for good reason. I have high hopes that, in the future, union endorsements for candidates will be meaningful to residents. That is not the case now.
We understand that the job of a union is to represent its members; most members do not live in Tukwila. We understand that unions would like to see someone elected that would make sure that they get fair consideration in issues that come up from time to time. The problem is that there is no transparency in the process. Were all candidates interviewed? What questions were asked and what factors lead to the endorsement? How is the decision made? When an endorsement for a candidate comes out before others have announced their candidacy, it does not look good.
With some changes and transparency in the union endorsement process, a union endorsement can play a credible and valued role in assisting voters in their decision-making process.
The best bet for voters in this election is to ignore the endorsements and focus on the background and experience of each candidate. What do they bring to the table? If they prefer a political party, what is it? Have they been active in the community? Have they lived in the community continuously for a long time? Talk with someone reasonably well-informed about the election and the candidates. Call or email the candidates and ask questions. Candidates expect this.