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Her Honor

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, looks at ethical dilemmas, scandals, and best practices in government.

The following postings have been filtered by category Elections. clear filter
  •  Moving Up But Remembering Your Roots

    Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

    Term limits in California are seen as a boon and a bust. Some argue the law prevents good people from gaining experience and becoming better legislators. On the other hand, term limits have been seen as a way to "clean house" and bring in new ideas along with new elected officials.

    Whatever your opinion, one very good outcome is the advancement of city and county officeholders to Sacramento.

    According to the League of California Cities, more than 50 percent of the assembly and senate have local government experience.

    As long as these individuals remember how much the state laws impact local government, we will be celebrating. But Sacramento is a long distance from many of the cities represented by these legislators, and the pressure of the special interests are magnified at the state capitol.


  •  Post-election Advice

    Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

    The greatest temptation of a newly elected public official might be to jump in, head first. As with diving into shallow waters, this can be very dangerous.

    During the frenzy of the campaign season, friends were made and lost, enemies kept track of perceived slights, and the voters were filled with both hope and despair.

    My advice to those who are transitioning from candidate to officeholder is to begin your new role by first thanking all who helped you. Be especially grateful to family members and close friends who provided the 24-hour-a-day support that you needed.

    Reach out to your opponents. Understand that although you won, some percentage of the voters chose the other candidate. If you ended the campaign on bad terms with anyone, extend the olive branch. It may be difficult, but this simple action will set the stage for future success.

    Learn all you can about your new job before you start making sweeping changes. Things actually look different from inside than they do when you are outside the organization.  Ask questions about policies and procedures, and take special care to learn the ethics laws and the values behind them.

    To those of you who were unchallenged, don't be content with your "mandate." It could be that people were so tired and fed up that nobody wanted to run against you. Remember your duty to your constituents should be as vigorous now as it was when you were first elected.

    If you'd like to know more about how to succeed as a newly elected public official, visit our Web site. You'll learn about the unavoidabe ethical dilemmas you will face in office and how to make ethical decisions.

    And if you subscribe to this blog, you'll have a chance to become a part of an important ongoing dialog.

  •  Your Vote Is Your Voice

    Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010

    For the past 90 years the League of Women Voters (LWV) has been a valued resource for the public and the press. Local chapters sit in on city council meetings, study general plans and other important policy issues, and moderate campaign debates. They can be found registering voters, volunteering on election day, and researching all sides of an issue before issuing a recommendation.

    Today I received an email from the president of the League of Women Voters, promoting VOTE411, an online voters' guide. By simply typing your address you can access the candidates and their positions, as well as any ballot measures. A special feature has information for military and overseas voters. Best of all, the site allows you to print out the results, which serve as a handy guide at the polls.

    "Your vote is your voice," read the email. Fortunately, this internet site makes it even easier to "speak up" on November 2.

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