EDITORIAL: Accountability is everything for candidates

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It’s all over but the results and when the polls close on March 6, The Independent will be putting a bow on the primary for you and setting up the Republican and Democrat matchups for the November General Election.

Sixteen interviews – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – and 10 stories later, The Independent wraps up its 2018 Primary coverage today.

We found both joy and disappointment in the process. The joy came in the wave of candidates on both ballots who were eager to spread their message and talk about why they hoped to serve the community.

The disappointment came in the message we got from two candidates that engaging the voters does not seem to be a priority.

The Independent sought to have the conversation with the candidates that each voter would not have the opportunity to have themselves. We wanted to ask questions and let candidates present themselves in person so we could get a real sense of who they are and what they are all about.

Fourteen candidates willingly put their busy campaign and regular work schedules aside to meet and answer questions face to face. Sometimes the questions were more challenging than others, but no one hesitated and each one was happy to have the opportunity to reach voters in Liberty Hill.

A pair of candidates in what are considered the two highest-ranking races in our area, both Republican incumbents, chose not to participate in that process for one reason or another.

A number of calls and e-mails to State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, went without a response.

Initially, efforts to set up an interview with U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, also met with no response, until a five-day back and forth by email resulted in his office wanting to set up an interview well past the newspaper’s press deadline for this issue.

At times candidates may feel under siege by the media. They may feel like they are better off avoiding questions that don’t come ahead of time or can’t be screened. They may feel too busy to speak with reporters.

The Independent is not that media and elected officials, with the responsibility to make laws and spend tax dollars on our behalf, do not get the luxury of deciding whether they want to engage the public or not. They are public servants. Being a public servant means being accessible and accountable to the public.

In Carter’s press response to the President’s State of the Union address Jan. 30, he said, “I’m glad the President reminded everybody in that room, it’s not about us; it’s about the American people who send us here.”

Yes it is, and those who seek or hold elected office should never forget it.

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