Sun, Dec. 15

Editorial: Checks and balances for elected officials too often sadly lacking

At every level, elected officials are loathe to admit mistakes or shortcomings.

As if they don’t exist.

But two incidents in the past week prove that if there are policies in place to police those who seek and hold public office, there is a lot of embarrassment and ridicule to avoid in the end.

A classic case in point involves the ultimate resignation this past week of Prescott Republican David Stringer from the Arizona House of Representatives. The details of Stringer’s political downfall don’t warrant mention here, but they are lurid to the point that it begs the question of how in the world was the guy elected in the first place?

Checks and balances were sadly lacking for Stringer’s name to ever appear on an election ballot.

Another classic example of the system failing the voters occurred this past week when a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled a member of the Window Rock School Board was illegally elected.

His crime? He wasn’t a registered voter, but somehow his name slipped through the cracks and he ended up on the ballot and won the favor of school district voters.

Thankfully, in Yavapai County, this never would have happened. County School Superintendent Tim Carter said part of the checks and balances his office practices during election seasons is to make sure those who file paperwork to have their names placed on school board ballots is to check and see if they are, among other things, properly registered to vote in the school district for which they seek public office.

That’s not to say we haven’t seen lapses in oversight before by local government with the people elected to serve their communities.

Several years ago, a suspicious Jerome Town Council member decided to follow one of the fellow members of the council home following a meeting. The council members’ suspicions proved correct when it ultimately was revealed the elected council member didn’t even live in Jerome.


Also, it took the diligence of a reporter from this newspaper many years ago to reveal that council members in both Camp Verde and Cottonwood were elected to office despite having felony convictions.

Clearly, some of the people who seek public office are not to be trusted.

We shouldn’t take any of them at their word.

Anyone and everyone, at every elective level, should be subject to the utmost scrutiny before their names are allowed to be placed on an election ballot.

When there is integrity in the process, only then can we have confidence in the integrity of the people we elect to serve us.

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