The Aug. 15 arrest of state Rep. Joseph Brennan, D-133rd, on simple assault and DUI charges, and the subsequent an-nouncement he would not seek re-election in November should lead residents of the Lehigh Valley to conduct deeper research into whom their candidates and elected officials are.
We, the people, should place higher standards on our elected officials, and those public officials should abide by higher ethical and moral standards.
What drives someone to run for public office? I believe candidates' motives are initially pure and noble. They may feel an innate desire to serve the community and sacrificially give of their time for a greater calling.
Based on the current local, state and national political climate, it would appear the traits that compel many candidates to run for office have become lost in the politics of acrimony, money, self-interest and poor decision-making.
As voters, we should expect those who represent us at the city, state and national levels to live exemplary lives.
Elected officials should be expected to not only follow the law but they also should clearly understand they no longer live insulated, private lives. They live public lives that are open to scrutiny.
Living and working in the public realm requires a far different standard of living. The public servant is continually living his or her life in the public sphere.
Every word uttered and every action taken will be observed and evaluated by another person.
Perhaps this higher standard of living and the intense stressors of the job lead some elected officials to make less than honorable choices and decisions.
The rigors of the job, which require an always receptive eye and ear to those being served, may cause the elected official to steer off course and lose the sense of duty, obligation and calling he or she once was driven by.
Voters place a sacred trust in our public officials by voting for them.
Our votes should tell the candidate we not only consider him or her competent to perform the duties of the job, but also ethically, morally and legally equipped to serve us and our communities.
Our votes are stamps of approval, showing public officials we trust them, we believe in them and we support them.
What can we as voters do to ensure those on the ballot are the most qualified?
First, research each candidate. Contact the League of Women Voters and the county election office and request whatever information they may have available on the candidates.
Also, access various media outlets to determine what is being reported on the candidates.
Be sure to acquire as much information you can before casting your vote on election day.
Secondly, attend a public debate or forum. These events highlight a great deal about how candidates respond to a particular question and issue.
These events also tellingly display how comfortable candidates are with presenting his or her political platform to the public.
Finally, contact the candidate yourself and ask questions.
Those we elect – from the local level to the president – should be men and women who are driven by a desire to serve others and who possess the highest virtues.
These are individuals who not only represent our interests and our communities, but also the values we hold closest to our hearts.
Our elected officials should be men and women about whom we can tell the youth of this country to aspire to be like.
According to a recent Suffolk University - USA Today survey of unregistered and unlikely voters, 90 million American citizens eligible to vote will not cast a ballot in the upcoming general election.
This number is alarming and should motivate each of us to do our part and vote.
The philosopher Plato said, "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
Before we cast our vote, let's make sure we are not governed by "inferiors," but rather by men and women of the highest ethical and moral character who are fully qualified to perform the duties required of a public servant.