- What is your age?
- *What is your birth date? (*This question will not be published, but is necessary for the paper to have in order to track age over the months and years.)
- Why are you running for office at this particular time? In other words, what is the specific impetus for your run this year?
- Why specifically are you running for a seat on the (specific entity) as opposed to any other office?
- What is your platform? (The News will not run separate stories outlining platforms. If platforms change during the campaign, forums will be the appropriate place to announce such changes.)
- What issues do you hope to address and/or what do you hope to accomplish if elected?
- (Note: If running for re-election, candidates will be asked about the progress of their previous platform items.)
- What is your current profession? What are your day-to-day duties?
- How long have you worked there?
- Do you have any side or part-time jobs? Can you describe these?
- To the best of your ability, can you describe all jobs you’ve held as an adult and how long you held them?
- Can you provide a current, fairly recent resume if you have one?
- From where did you graduate high school? If you did not graduate high school, do you have a GED?
- Did you attend college and do you have any post-secondary degrees? If yes, can you list colleges attended.
- If you have a degree, what kind of degree is it, in what field did you earn it, from which institution did you earn it and in what year did you earn it?
- Please describe any involvement you have with civic and nonprofit groups. (Please also feel free to list church affiliations and positions.)
Public contact info
- How can people get in contact with you (phone, email, social media)?
- Can you please list your spouse/partner and children, if you have any? Can you list ages of children?
- In which city were you born?
- In which city/area did you grow up?
- When did you move to Newton County and why did you move here?
- Can you please provide an updated photo (less than 3 years old) or make yourself available for us to take a photo of you?
Criminal/civil suit background
- Have you ever been arrested for a crime? If yes, were you convicted or where charges dropped? If either case, can you please describe what happened?
- Have you ever been sued in a civil suit? If yes, can you please describe the situation and outcome?
- Have you ever sued anyone in a civil suit? If yes, can you please describe the situation and outcome?
- Have you ever had a temporary protection order taken out against you? If yes, can you please describe what happened?
- Can you please list all properties you own in Newton County? How many total properties do you own, including those outside of Newton County?
- Can you please list all businesses in which you have an ownership stake?
- Do you have any personal or business bankruptcies in your past? If yes, please describe the circumstances.
- Have you ever had any personal or business properties foreclosed? If yes, please describe the circumstances.
- Do you or have you ever had any local, state or federal tax liens filed against you or a company you had an ownership stake in? If yes, please describe the circumstances.
- Have you ever had a vehicle or other large purchase repossessed? If yes, please describe the circumstances.
- Have you voted during each of the past five general elections, including both presidential and non-presidential elections?
- If no, which elections did you miss and why?
Campaign contributions and financial disclosure reports (for incumbents)
- Do you currently have any fines against you from the State Ethics Commission for not properly filing either campaign contribution and/or financial disclosure reports? If yes, how many and why?
- Do you have anything else in your background that may come up during the campaign that you would like to talk about up front?
The Covington News strives to provide the most in-depth and consistent local election coverage possible, and, to that end, we’re asking the public to help us by giving us feedback on the questions prospective candidates need to be asked.
Based on issues from past elections — particularly last year’s increasingly contentious races — The News’ staff has created a 36-question vetting list that will be given to any person who announces that he or she is running for office.
The goal of the questionnaire is to leave no stone unturned, and it includes questions about candidates’ platforms, work experience, education, civic involvement, families, criminal background, financial background, voting history and other areas. The News wants readers to look over the questionnaire and provide feedback.
Do any questions need to be added or tweaked, or are any questions unfair? Feel free to make comments on our website, on Facebook or via email to reporter Gabe Khouli at email@example.com.
“The way campaigns are run and elections are decided has changed substantially over the years, and we’ve personally seen an increased emphasis in local elections on digging up dirt and slinging mud,” said general manager T. Pat Cavanaugh. “We’re going to ask every question that could possibly affect the outcome of the election, and we’re going to ask them well ahead of time instead of having things come up at the last minute.
“Candidates will have the ability to get everything out on the table from the very beginning, and we hope they choose to do just that.”
The plan is for the answers to be published verbatim online at CovNews.com.
If a candidate chooses not to answer the questionnaire at all, doesn’t answer certain questions or tries to sidestep certain questions, the responses/non-responses will be noted.
The News will continue to run background checks to hold candidates accountable for the answers they present to the paper and the public.
“We want all prospective candidates to see our questionnaire ahead of time so they understand what they’re getting into when they choose to seek public office,” Cavanaugh said.