Tom Pietryla, The Circle

In representational democracies, we often view our representatives as extensions of ourselves or our communities. We are supposed to vote for a candidate that emulates our outlook on the present and future, our culture and the pinnacle of character. When I decide who to vote for, I use these benchmarks as my decision-making arsenal.

Usually, similar values and vision are not hard to come across but character and personality vary from candidate to candidate. With regard to values, I gravitate towards those politicians who put people before the pocket and who see circumstance not as a flaw of the individual but as an opportunity to help one another.

At the bare minimum, a politician that I can support must respect human rights unequivocally and speak out when something is wrong even if it means electoral ruin.

A politician must also have a vision of the future that they will fight for. I feel most comfort in choosing a candidate that I know will hold true to their vision and their values once they have the agency to act upon them. With regard to character and personality, I look for empathy, intelligence, integrity, honesty and diplomacy.

A politician should be always engaged with who they represent, engaging them in productive dialogue and debate. Even if they make mistakes, they should own up to it, apologize and move forward to make amends.

When a politician or candidate is not honest, my confidence in their performance and in their motives will always be on notice. In essence, they must know themselves and not be afraid to show their true selves. If they are afraid, then they should not run for office.