With campaigns for Killeen municipal and school board races in full swing, candidates are doing their best to be heard by the voters.
Name recognition is crucial, of course, especially in races with multiple candidates seeking the same seat.
But to win an election, a candidate must also have a message that resonates with the voters.
Ideally, that message should take the form of a positive vision for a city or school district. It could be a constructive solution to an issue that needs to be addressed. Or it could be a call for reordered priorities at City Hall or the school administration office.
Bottom line, each candidate should be telling voters what he or she can do to make a difference — to make the city or school district more responsive to residents and more accountable to taxpayers.
But far too often, elections are muddied by negative messages — unfounded rumors, personal attacks and harmful innuendo.
Clearly, there is no place for this kind of negative campaigning in our local communities, and Central Texas voters should stand up and denounce such tactics whenever they spot them.
Candidates who focus on the negative in an attempt to get votes should be rebuffed — both at public campaign events and at the ballot box.
The Killeen area is fortunate to have a large number of quality candidates, many of whom bring to the ballot an array of educational, business and civic experience.
In the Killeen mayoral race, two candidates have more than 15 years of service on the Killeen City Council between them. Both are businessmen, and both have lived in the community their whole lives.
The candidates running for three at-large seats on the Killeen City Council have diverse backgrounds. Among them are a local construction business owner, a Fort Hood environmental protection specialist; a former Killeen ISD teacher and counselor; an insurance broker; a controller and marketing director; a substitute teacher; and a Fort Hood warehouseman. Three of those candidates are council incumbents.
In the Killeen school board race, one of the candidates is a former longtime local high school principal in the district. Another earned a law degree and is a CEO of a consulting firm. A third candidate is the president of a local educators organization. The fourth candidate is a counselor and former educator.
Several of the candidates for office have served their country as well, with many of them finishing their military careers at Fort Hood.
But perhaps more important than educational background, field of employment or experience in government is the potential for positive, responsive leadership — and it’s a quality that can be found in many of our candidates seeking office in the May 10 election.
It’s crucial that local residents acquaint themselves with the candidates who are seeking their votes. That can be accomplished by attending a political forum or other community event at which the candidates appear. Several forums are scheduled in the coming days, including the Herald’s forum for Killeen mayoral and council candidates on April 7. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Viewers can also learn more about the candidates by going to the Herald’s website dedicated to political news and events: KDHnews.com/centerforpolitics. On this site, viewers can find biographical information on each municipal and school board candidate, as well as videos in which the candidates offer their views on the issues facing the community.
It’s important that local voters listen carefully to the candidates and support those who demonstrate integrity and dedication to the community, and not to vested special interests.
If voters demand strong candidates with a positive message, a vision for the future and the ability to make things happen, they will go a long way to giving our community the leadership it needs and deserves.