When So Few People Vote in Dallas, Can We Really Be Surprised There Is Political Corruption?

Our first thought upon hearing about the latest ethics scandal to rock the city of Dallas was to wonder if we are becoming something akin to New York of yesteryear, when Boss Tweed ran things and the city was so rife with misdeed that political wrongdoing seemed to be part of the underlying culture.But there is reason to be more hopeful about Big D than that.It is true, of course, that political corruption will be with us for as long as greed and sin are part of the human condition. So now we get Carolyn Davis, a former member of the City Council who has pleaded guilty to taking $40,000 and the promise of future employment in exchange for helping shepherd a real estate project through the council. Ruel Hamilton, a campaign contributor to Davis, is charged with two counts of bribery in connection to the case.But here is the other side of the story, which gives us hope: Our North Texas community has, in its U.S. Attorney’s office, law enforcement that's willing to do the hard work necessary to root out public corruption.And residents shouldn’t gloss over the importance and difficulty of that work. After all, public corruption breeds public cynicism, which then leads to a disengaged citizenry. The end result is something we see too often in municipal elections in Dallas — low voter turnout as too many would-be voters believe their vote won’t make a difference in a world where elected officials are on the take.The truth is that as voter turnout falls to abysmal levels, it becomes easier for people of low character to maneuver themselves into high office. Not everyone is corrupt. But when just a handful of votes can tip the balance of an election, it’s easy to see how the wrong candidate might slip through.Going after corrupt officials is crucial. So we are thankful for this case, and the case last year that saw then-sitting member of City Council Dwaine Caraway plead guilty to federal corruption charges.But the real antidote to all of this is an engaged citizenry supporting candidates with good moral character and strong records of achievement in other facets of their lives. We are, therefore, encouraged to see a robust roster of candidates for mayor and city council seats this year. We hope all Dallas voters understand that they can make a stand against the wrong leadership for this city by voting this spring. Election Day is May 4. Make a vow to yourself now to vote in that election.  Continue reading...

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