As members of the Silicon Valley Ethics Roundtable, we have been watching with more than passing interest the conduct and the outcome of the Special Election recently held to fill the vacant District 2 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. As expected, that election resulted in the need for a runoff election between the two top candidates–Theresa Alvarado and Cindy Chavez.
During the campaign leading up to the recent election, the candidates and their supporters appeared to be cordial enough–that was expected by local political pundits and other commentators. However, it is also expected, and rued by some, that the runoff election will devolve into a no holds barred contest between the candidates and their supporters with charges and countercharges that obscure the issues and hard choices we face.
That will be unfortunate for many reasons. The candidates’ positions on the issues become blurred and their fitness for elective office is impugned. Candidates are often forced to issue statements that obscure the real issues facing the County, and their supporters may resort to unethical slurs and charges hurled from one side to the other.
Theresa Alvarado and Cindy Chavez are both well-qualified candidates with much to offer the voters of District 2 and Santa Clara County. We hope that they will take the high road and argue the merits of their own qualifications and elucidate the issues and real problems that must be resolved. To many observers, political ethics is an oxymoron. Unfortunately, much political behavior bears that out, but it needn’t be so. Candidates for elective office have a responsibility to inform the voters, as best they can, about the problems we face and how we can best resolve them. Let the candidates speak for themselves and not attempt to impugn each other. In addition, the candidates should ask their supporters to contribute their ideas about how to deal with the issues and to keep their arrows quivered.