COMMENTARY: Election Day: The need for quality officeholders, not just qualified candidates by Hassan Giordano

(BALTIMORE – November 8, 2017) – As we stand one year away from the all-important 2018 General Election, we remain transfixed on the character we currently have serving as our Commander-In-Chief. President Donald Trump has brought us to a period of political polarization the has left both parties paralyzed with paranoia on what he may do next, while leaving many of us to question how in the world did we get to this point.

That answer should be rather simple.

We allowed the qualifications of a political position determine the future of our nation by assuming that meeting that low standard of approval would thereby ensure we elect a candidate ready and able to tackle the difficult tasks ahead. And while Democratic Party leaders across the country are busy trying to rally the troops to make sure our party turns out in droves during the midterms next year, we must also be cognizant of the reality that we also have candidates who will meet the qualifications of an office without rising to the standard of being a quality officeholder.

There shall be plenty of names on next year’s ballots, some of whom you will be familiar with either because they are vying for re-election, or they ring a bell because they have run for elected office over and over again with the faint hope that one day they will get elected to some position with a fancy title. Either way, each of them will put forth their best efforts in trying to convince the electorate on why they are the best choice for the position in which they seek.

Some will use dazzling words like transparency and accountability, while others will use slogans such as ‘people before politics’, all the while never giving you any insight into the policy plans or qualifications they possess in order to solve the many issues facing the office in which they seek. There will be promise after promise about what they plan to achieve, if you so choose to put them into office, while others will simply ask that you vote to keep them in office based on the things that they have already accomplished.

But what is the defining question(s) voters have to ask these candidates, and the answers that will determine whether or not these individuals are quality officeholders or simply qualified candidates mimicking the answers given by the quality candidate in hopes of winning the election?

I, for one, have always adhered to the basic principle of getting to the reasons a person decided to run for the position in which they seek, and to see what qualities they possess and actions they have taken previously that make them a candidate I believe is worthy of the position in which they seek. This is the same standard I held myself to when deciding to run for Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

I have been in and around politics for almost two decades, and could’ve just as easily ran for office a long time ago, but never felt the need to offer myself up for a position because I always felt that the class of individual candidates currently in the race was occupied by at least one person I felt comfortable would do a great job once elected.

I seriously considered a run for an open city council seat in 2015, when my friend and longtime supporter Robert ‘Bobby’ Curran decided to call it quits and retire in the city’s third council district. But once I began that exploratory process, I ran across the candidacy of two great candidates, Ryan Dorsey and Jermaine Jones, two gentlemen I believed in my heart had the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running once elected and represent that district to the fullest. And I must say Mr. Dorsey has done just that, so I am quite satisfied with my decision.

And then my friend and mentor passed away, Mr. Frank Conaway Sr. – the longtime Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. And it immediately became clear to me and those around me, that this was a position that I was more than qualified for, and one that I had been fighting to improve for years. Whether it was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with courthouse employees and the local AFSCME union that represented them in fighting for better working conditions, or if it was testifying in Annapolis in hopes of brokering a collective bargaining agreement for these dedicated employees; I realized that I had a long history of service when it came to changing the courts.

So when I decided to run for the office, and laid out my “21st century vision” for how we ‘Change the Courts’, it was more than just campaign rhetoric designed to entice the voters to support my candidacy, but rather a testament to the things I had helped shape and bring to fruition over the past few years.

To me, being a candidate should be more than just being qualified to get your name on the ballot; and as it relates to the Office of Circuit Court Clerk, those qualifications aren’t very hard to meet. It should be about the body of work that candidate has shown over the years that can make even the most pessimistic voter confident in that candidates ability to achieve the goals they have set forth in their campaign platform.

And as a Party, we shouldn’t mislead ourselves into believing that any candidate with the letter D following their name is someone who is worthy of your vote without first asking a very simple question: What have you done in your past that relates to the office in which you seek that shows me that you can be a quality officeholder, and more than just a qualified candidate?


Hassan Giordano


The writer is the city’s leading democratic candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City