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Vote for the right candidate for Bermuda's future

Anyone who does not think that there is an election pending has been missing the signs.

The rhetoric, the promises of new programs, the photographic and interview opportunities, the demands and whining in the blame game are being displayed on both sides of the aisle, and yes, the criticisms and sharp-tongued retorts are ramping up.

So, what kind of person are you going to vote for? But, more importantly, what are you going vote for? That depends upon what you want, doesn't it?

Have you given any thought to this incredibly important decision? It's hard to think about the future when so much of our living is dependent upon just getting through each day, especially when you have a family.

When you stand at the edge of the sea, looking at the far horizon, knowing it have been powered for millenniums by a mystical force, or under a 2,000 year old redwood stretching straight up in silent majestic loftiness, your life can seem insignificant, immaterial, and powerless. Perhaps you have reached the point of indifference, feeling that no matter what you do (or don't do) nothing is going to change. It's normal to feel this way. Voters observing constant political discourse and actions often cite the disconnect between their vote and the ultimate election results. They feel they don't count.

But, consider this, you live in your personal environment. You want to more than just exist. You want your environment to be a reflection of you: your likes and dislikes, your personal tastes, your core values, your friends and neighbours, your sense of future confidence and serenity. Little do we realise that as we go through life, every day we vote (yes, vote). Decisions are votes, whether big or small decisions, they are still votes. You decide what kind of groceries to buy, what type of education you want, what type of job you will apply for, how much you will spend, or save. Voting for your candidate is a vitally important decision. Staying home and not voting is also a decision, but it literally means that you don't count. You have just amplified your own frustration.

What kind of candidate do you want? Who will get your vote?

- Fiscally responsible. Someone transparent in his/her own financial affairs. People talk. Does the candidate appear to live way beyond his/her means? Does the candidate keep his / her debt under control? Does the candidate meet his / her personal responsibilities. Nothing could have been more embarrassing than watching a Congressional Representative from Illinois lecture on the need for a United States balanced budget while the media reported that he personally owed more than $100,000 in child support for his four children from a first marriage. If your candidate cannot handle his/her own debts and spending, how on earth can they help manage a government budget?

- Courage and commitment. Certainly, you do not want the political hypocrite who does not possess the courage of his/her convictions. We are all fed up with politicians who don't follow their own advice. Live your convictions, please don't ask us to sacrifice if you are not willing to share in the sacrifice along the way. We need leaders, not lecturers.

- Conscientious voting record. The most important thing about voting one's conscience is being there to cast a vote. Your representative can't help you and your fellow constituents if he/she is not even participating in governmental process and debate. This is his/her job. They get paid to represent you. Hold them to it voting records and Parliamentary attendance lists are available.

- Intellectual honesty. Someone who understands your issues, such as help with finding another job, and wading through complex medical insurance. You want an individual who is knowledgeable, experienced and willing to research to understand current economic problems. How can he/she vote on an issue if they don't want to be bothered to understand the issue?

- Business experienced. Someone who has worked in business (or has a business) who knows what it is like to be employed outside of government. A candidate who understands how tough it is to run a business, employ good people, meet payrolls and debt payments, make a reasonable profit, and weather economic challenges is a realistic real world business person. He/she knows exactly how frustrating it feels to see sales decline month after month. Experience counts.

- Free of conflicts of interest. Someone who puts your interests, the interests of his/her constituency, and above all, the good of the country above his/her own self interest. It is time for a registrar of interests, and full disclosure by all politicians. No politician whose duty is to serve the public and his/her country should be able to benefit (or even appear to influence) from side deals, government contracts, and the like without absolute full disclosure.

- A personal ethics code. Looks matter so much but actions matter more. A fine suit, gorgeous jewellery and accessories, and elaborate speeches have no substance if the candidate is not wearing the cloak of honesty, integrity, and ethical standards.

Scrutinise your candidate. Look past the promises, Past the party rhetoric, Past the mannerisms, Past the fancy suit. Past the speeches, both good and bad. Ask what has this person done (or will do) for me lately? What has this person done for Bermuda?

Put your courage of convictions into your vote.

Do not let your thoughts that you don't matter, that your vote doesn't matter deter you.

Think deeply about this. Once you vote (or don't vote) in the privacy of that booth there is no going back, and there can be no regrets.

Next: What do you want financially and socially for yourself, your family, and your country? Only you can decide. When you cast your vote, you will get what you asked for.

Martha Myron, JP CPA CFP (US) TEP is an international Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner in private wealth management. She specialises in independent fee-only cross border investment, tax, estate, and strategic retirement planning services for Bermuda residents with United States and multinational connections, and US citizens living and working abroad. She is a member of the American Citizens Abroad Tax Advisory Council. www.americansabroad.org For more information contact mmyron@patterson-partners.com or 296-3528 at Patterson Partners Ltd.

Premier Paula Cox

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Published August 27, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated August 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm)

Vote for the right candidate for Bermuda's future

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