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October 19, 2010 > Letter to the editor: Values shape candidate selection

Letter to the editor: Values shape candidate selection

A word of caution to those whose choices are overshadowed by priorities of race, gender or other perceived shared attributes.

I am a woman of color, a person who is frequently in the community as a voice from underrepresented segments of society and a first generation immigrant living the ongoing conflicts of acculturation and assimilation. I am, as many of us are, all too familiar with the power of voter preference based on identity politics. We relate to a candidate by race, gender or shared experiences reactively assuming that surely this person of similar physical characteristics and/or personal history appropriately reflects my own values of justice and effective government.

We exist in similar looking packages but this does not guarantee an exact duplicate of affected outcomes from experiences that shape our views and values about the world. Often we allow ourselves to prioritize a person's qualification based on assumed physical and/or experiential expectations but do we then create the same behavior of exclusion and pre-judgment that we originally set out to eliminate in our quest for equal representation?

As active careful voters, we need to be mindful of considerations for our decisions as value-based, considerate of others and dependent on experience-derived expectations. In the process of selecting your slate of qualified public servants, consider whether the candidates, who would represent you, have guided their decisions on policies that impact our lives in sustainable ways, benefit our communities and are considerate of the varying needs of the many.

As I sort through the superficial similarities I may share with a candidate, I create a truism that guides me. Those candidates' experiences shape their values but ultimately it is their actions which define their priorities. Do I share those priorities with this candidate?

Dr. Jennifer Hidalgo Ong
(Unincorporated) Hayward

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