Letter: Missing Information

Letter: Missing Information

— To the Editor:

In order to be a fully informed voter, we need to have accurate information, from a variety of reliable, factual sources. But we aren’t getting that in two different contests.

On the federal level, it has been standard that recent candidates running for the U.S. presidency have made public their tax returns. All 535 members of Congress have their tax returns on file for review, as do members of the Cabinet and congressional and executive branch level employees with incomes over a certain figure. So a request for this data is neither unusual nor intrusive. With the current candidacy of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, he has a precedent in his own family in that his father as a candidate for the same office filed 12 years of returns, versus only one year for himself. Yet when he was vetted 4 years ago as a possible GOP VP candidate, he provided several years of returns to the McCain Campaign. If Romney’s Democratic opponent Barack Obama had refused to provide his returns, he would be pilloried by the press and public alike.

By refusing to provide this usual data, it simply raises questions of why he would be unwilling to disclose information that has generally been provided. Since Romney has continually stated he would eliminate many loopholes in the tax code regarding deductions, it would be interesting for voters to see if he himself has used some of these. He is criticizing those with incomes too low — or too high — to pay taxes, yet he shrouds his own in mystery.

On a local level in Alexandria, we are also seeing an unusual refusal to provide information by the Democratic candidate for mayor, who has a viable opponent who is seeking substantive public debates on their different viewpoints. Seldom have I seen a politician who does not eagerly seek out such a public forum — to summarize all the outstanding things they have done in past terms and to explain promises and programs for what they hope to achieve in a future term.

Yet Bill Euille, after 18 years on the Council and 9 years at the helm, continues to resist all efforts by the citizens to hold at least one in-depth debate solely for mayoral candidates on the many issues facing this city. This is requested by representatives of several civic associations and the citizens themselves.

During his tenure, Euille has done many outstanding things, worthy of note. But there have also been decisions he spearheaded such as BRAC, Arlandria, Beauregard Small Area Plan and the Waterfront that have been touched by ongoing controversies. Let us hear his comments and those of his opponent on these issues.

To have an informed electorate on Nov. 6, we need to have both candidates for mayor tells us how they view their tenure in office (Euille’s Independent opponent Andrew Macdonald also served a term on the Council). We want to hear what they view as their strengths and their weaknesses, what they are proposing for the City’s future — which will affect us all. What will they do differently in the future versus what they did in the past? We want first-hand comments, not sanitized press releases, from either side. And we want a moderator who asks tough and fair questions.

It is not acceptable for any candidate who is seeking public office to claim ‘they are too busy’ to debate. We are all very busy — with work, families, finances, children and numerous issues. We cannot function as “informed voters if we lack significant factual input because one of the candidates insists on running “in absentia.” That’s not how it works in a democracy.

Kathleen M. Burns