EDITORIAL: It’s time to raise the bar in Liberty Hill

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Voters have made their decisions for the Liberty Hill city council and school board races, wrapping up a short, three-month campaign.

The Independent hopes that by sitting down with all the candidates for interviews and hosting the candidate forum, that the newspaper created a greater connection between the candidates and voters.

Important decisions are ahead for both the city and school district, so it is imperative that we continue to raise the bar for our elections.

An election has many important facets. The first is candidate engagement with the voting population. Events such as the candidate forum will be a staple of every local election season moving forward as we demand communication with candidates and the chance to ask questions in a public setting to evaluate them based on issues.

All of this year’s candidates helped make this election process better by that participation. As a community, we appreciate their willingness to answer questions and do the hard work of answering to voters.

A second, often ignored facet of the campaign season is fundraising and reporting.

On the surface it may seem less important, but such accountability to the laws and rules governing elections is critical and should be taken seriously by everyone involved.

The Independent is not suggesting that any candidate intentionally misled the community or misrepresented their fundraising and campaign spending through the election season.

But each candidate who raised or spent money in excess of the $500 maximum allowed to avoid filing detailed reports failed to file those reports in accordance with the rules spelled out by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Nearly every report was either not filed by the specified date, or did not account for funds raised or spent in the detailed manner required.

When everyone was provided with the complete rules of reporting on the day they filed for a place on the ballot, we expect complete transparency and voters should hold candidates accountable.

While it may seem small, if we don’t expect candidates to follow the legal rules for an election, how can we assume that all of the other rules that will govern their actions as elected officials will be critically important to them?

It doesn’t have to be intentional, as careless failure to abide by the law can be just as costly, and just as illegal.

Candidates must remember that everything they do on their way to public office, is open for examination by the public. If they are uncomfortable with that or feel it should not be the case as a candidate, they will likely not agree once in office that their business is the public’s business.

Accountability is the key to being a good leader in the community, and it begins the minute someone files to run for office. It signals their desire be part of Liberty Hill’s bright future, and should signal that they take the opportunity and the expectations attached to the opportunity seriously.

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