The Kansas Leadership Center has surveyed a number of local candidates for public office across the state and wants to share the information not only with readers of its magazine but with others in Kansas, including the state’s newspapers.
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In turn, KLC will link to newspaper coverage of municipal, school board and other local races to give voters even more access to such information.
Chris Green, editor of The Journal, the center’s magazine, said: “If you want to know what a candidate will truly do in office, you can’t just ask them what they think or what their positions are. You have to ask them what they’ll do.
“As I wrote last year in the context of the Kansas governor’s race, candidates for elective office tend to do, or at least try to do, what they promise voters during a campaign,” Green said.
To help KLC’s readers and others in making their voting choices in the Nov. 5 general election, the center sent out a survey to more than 250 candidates in communities where the magazine’s readership is highest.
“We tried to keep our questions brief and to the point, because candidates told us that they are often bombarded by lengthy surveys during their campaigns,” Green said.
The Journal settled on just three major questions to ask every candidate:
• Provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.
• Outline your one key priority and explain the choice.
• Finally, how would you go about working to address the key priority.
For a handful of communities, Green decided to ask a few more questions about key local issues such as affordable housing, child care and government transparency.
“Our surveys don’t give a comprehensive overview about what candidates think about multiple issues affecting their communities,” Green said, “but since The Journal is a magazine published by a leadership education center, we decided to ask questions that would identify leadership attributes that might be useful in public office.”
Does the candidate have a clear purpose for wanting to serve? Do they understand both adaptive and technical aspects of the challenge they’d like to work on? Do they express a willingness to both take the initiative and engage others in the process? Are their plans specific enough to be actionable but open-ended enough to keep them from getting boxed in? Those are questions that readers are going to have to answer for themselves.
After distributing the survey by email and letter (follow-up phone calls were made to as many candidates as possible), The Journal received responses from more than 150 candidates in at least 49 elections across the state. The magazine staff decided rather than print all the responses, they would make them available on The Journal’s website, klcjournal.com.
If Journal readers or others know of additional resources from other reputable sources that provide even more comprehensive information about local races, please send them to Green at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll link to them (with credit).
Also, KLC will post any additional responses to klcjournal.com.