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Shared Ethics Advisory Commission logo

Shared Ethics Advisory Commission logo

It's something we all should be able to expect from our elected leaders and those who seek to become one.

Unfortunately, our Region has come to expect the opposite because of so many examples of unscrupulous public servants.

For that reason, we all must think long and hard today as many voters in Lake and Porter county cities and towns head to the polls to retain or select new municipal leaders.

Voting in and of itself is the first tool we can bring to bear in a quest for good government and ethical leadership.

But there are certainly no guarantees.

The Times has chronicled the cases of more than 80 Northwest Indiana elected officials or their politically connected cronies who have been convicted of federal crimes against the taxpayer since the 1980s.

It's safe to say most voters who selected those leaders didn't know they would use their respective offices to enrich themselves, steal, cheat or perpetuate other acts of public corruption.

There's no absolute way of preventing this kind of abuse.

But one initial benchmark voters can and should use in selecting future leadership is a list of candidates who have signed the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission's ethics pledge.

The pledge asks candidates to commit to providing ethics training for all employees for whom they would be responsible as public officials, should they win their elections.

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It's a pledge to support comprehensive ethics policies within their respective units of government and to support whistleblower protection for employees filing ethics complaints.

Across Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, 185 candidates in the 2019 general election have signed the pledge.

Their names and the offices they seek are listed a www.sharedethics.com.

Even though it's promising 185 candidates appear to see the importance of such a pledge, it's also disheartening those candidates make up just over half of the total general election candidates.

Another 44% didn't sign the pledge.

Voters should think long and hard about casting ballots for candidates who don't value such ethical standards.

Meanwhile, those same voters also should put candidates who have chosen to sign the pledge on notice.

Signatures on the Shared Ethics Advisory Committee pledge cannot just be for show.

Signatories must know they're expected to put their pledges into actual practice.

And if they don't, they must be shown the door at the first electoral opportunity.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.