Voters in many other cities, counties, and states, have faced the issue of elected officials’ competence by adopting what those in the business world refer to as “executive due diligence.” However, in the world of politics, discovering a candidate’s background is more often instituted by maliciously conducting “opposition research.” Wikipedia defines “opposition research” and drags you back to the 1st century B.C., where you learn that even the great Cicero, while engaged is such a process, used tactics similar to the “nasty postcards” ploy that made the last Indian Wells election infamous.
Fortunately, there is a “best practices” approach that avoids “opposition research” and allows us to discover the facts necessary to perform “candidate due diligence.” It is not a new approach for “vetting” candidates but, until recently, it has not been widely used. Within the last several years a modern version of the process known as “Candidate Verification” started with a tiny voter effort in the State of Washington. It spread throughout that State and then moved on to 14 other States.
“Candidate Verification” is quite simple. It works like this. The candidate initiates the process by creating a detailed resume that enumerates and time stamps the items usually found in an executive background check. The candidate compiles his personal data and submits it to a non-profit corporation that then determines the veracity of the candidate’s information. The process includes the following:
- Employment Verification – companies/organizations, positions held, dates
- Military Records Search – service, rank/grade, dates
- Multi-State Instant Criminal Check – convictions only
- A search of all County and Federal criminal records – convictions only
- A search of all County and Federal Civil records – liens, bankruptcies, law suits
- Verification of Professional Credentials – license type, status, disciplinary actions
- Verification of Education – majors, degrees, dates
Subject to the candidate’s approval, the substantiated results are then posted on the verifying investigator’s online database. At this time 57 elected officials throughout the United States have posted such reports.
I believe this year’s campaign for City Council should add at least five more names to that list. The incumbent Council Members whose terms extend beyond the upcoming election should take the lead and demonstrate to this year’s candidates that they, in lieu of throwing rocks at each other, possess the courage to reveal their personal history as detailed above.
To accomplish this, both the candidates and the incumbents need to endorse the process of “candidate verification” and then become a participant by signing up at the following website:
You, the readers of the Indian Wells Times, need to comment on this approach. If you support the “candidate verification” process you should advise the candidates and the Council Members that you want this campaign to be known throughout the Coachella Valley and the State of California as the approach the citizens of Indian Wells will use to dignify and make reasonable future political campaigns.
It is ironic that we, a small city, would be asking for information that our current president has refused to give…….
We definitely agree to the suggestion on all points in regards to having background and other pertinent information about our existing council members and those planning to run for council. This is an excellent and much belated move.
Cécile & Dick McBride
Excellent idea, Ed. Impressive that Dana Reed is the first candidate or Council member to sign up. It begs the question: Why WOULDN’T a candidate or Council member do this?
I just signed up, and I encourage all my fellow candidates to do likewise.
This is a very sensible process to establish for Indian Wells. It should be mandatory for sitting members of the Council as well as candidates. Transparency is the best guide for voters ….. Give them the information and expect them to make a more informed decision.
Dr. Ward Fredericks
It’s a start!!
We vet our City Manager and all city employees with a background check. This practice is universal and accepted as prudent and necessary.
Yet when candidates file papers to run for IW City Council, and more importantly when they are elected for a position of fiduciary responsibility, which includes the disbursement of taxpayer dollars, our city and its voters have no mechanism in place to vet these candidates.
Yet we subject our City Manager and Staff to background checks, but they (staff) do not have the authority to authorize the allocation of taxpayer dollars. Only the City Council members have that authority, yet we do not require them to submit to background checks or vetting of any find.
Does that make any sense? We the voters, give Council Members the keys to the city purse, yet we vet everybody at city hall except Candidates and Council Members. As a friend of mine would say, this is ass backwards.
Candidate Verification, is not an end all to be all, but it’s a start toward achieving some measure of transparency as it applies to our candidates and our current elected officials.
The time has come for Council Members and Candidates, for IW City Council, to voluntarily submit to Candidate Verification. Those who refuse will have to answer to the voters in the next election.
What a great idea! It makes such intuitive sense but no one else ever thought of it. Well done.
I think it should be done for Peabody and Hanson also.