Friday, July 27, 2007

Who is Qualified?

We're having an election in October, and a plethora of public officials have to stand for re-election. We're electing statewide officials, and parishwide officials and the campaigning has begun.

The question on everybody's lips is Who's Qualified? In Louisiana, it ain't that simple. Right now, none of them are qualified because the qualifying period hasn't begun. There are a bunch of folks who have announced, but the qualifying period isn't until September 4-6, 2007. Right now none of them are qualified.

Then, it's just a matter of attesting to some fairly simple prerequisites. For example, lets say that Candidate X has announced for Sheriff. He's lived in the parish for the past 20 years, but never spent a day of it in law enforcement. Candidate X's only job for the past 20 years has been running a honky-tonk. On September 4th, he goes down to the Clerk of Courts office and pays a qualifying fee, attests that he has been a resident of Louisiana for two years and a resident of the parish for one year. He signs the form and he has qualified for Sheriff. His name will be on the ballot and if he can get a majority of the votes, he'll be Sheriff.

Now, lets say that Candidate Y has also announced his candidacy for Sheriff. He's also lived in the parish for 20 years, but all of his career has been in Law Enforcment. Lets say that he retired from the City police, then went to work for the Sheriff's office and attained a great deal of success as a modern police officer. Let's further say that some emergency takes him away from the parish during the qualifying period. Due to circumstances purely beyond his control he is not able to appear at the Clerk's office during the qualifying period, pay his fee and sign the form. He is not qualified, and his name will not be on the ballot. Nothing Candidate Y does will change that fact. He ain't qualified.

It sucks. He can run again next time. The lesson here is that being qualified for the job doesn't mean the same thing in politics as it does in the private sector. There is no great career progression for political office. It all boils down to who goes to the Courthouse and pays the fees. If you want your name on the ballot, nothing else matters.

You can see the qualifications for candidates, from governor to constable, here. It's a .pdf form, so be warned.

Hell, in Louisiana, you don't even have to be a Medical Doctor to be the Coroner.

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