“Shouldn’t It Be Up to the Voters?”

Jerry Goldfeder:

In short, the central question is whether voters should retain the choice of voting for a candidate with a checkered past, or even a “carpetbagger.” One of our nation’s illustrious founders, John Adams, when composing the Massachusetts constitution in 1780, started the trend of residency requirements, bucking the existing standard exemplified by New York’s 1777 constitution, which required only that gubernatorial candidates be “wise and discreet.” See J. Goldfeder, “A period of adjustment: Have residency requirements for governors overstayed their welcome?” Albany Times Union, Sept. 14, 2014. It was up to New York voters to decide if a candidate satisfied that standard. The voters of Lackawanna’s First Ward knew full well about Mohamed Albanna’s criminal past. They were familiar with the details of his wrongdoing, and knew he had been imprisoned. J.K. Radlich, “He did 5 years in federal prison, now wants 4 years on Lackawanna council,” The Buffalo News, June 7, 2017. Nevertheless, a majority voted for him to serve as their Councilman. Shouldn’t the voters’ choice outweigh imposed standards that restrict eligible candidates?

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