We are heading into that season again. Political campaigns, candidates, signs, slogans, and talk show appearances...soon they will all be a part of the scene. A day will not go by that we do not hear from some candidates, the banter of promises or the semantics of slogans and the verbalized pandering to this group or to that group. We read about so called policy discourses and the positions of conservatives, liberals, moderates, and the so called "main stream." Often, by some that is, the rhetoric seems to change, depending upon the group that is assembled and the headlines of the previous day. It seems that many of the key players have ways of reinventing their positions to fit the occasion. Even some candidates gauge their statements to conform to the latest polls, or the results of focus groups, or the pressure of local power brokers. The general public has become wise to this. Their core values stand bold and sift through the banter of rhetoric.

The American voter will not be moved with meaningless phases and baseless rhetoric. It is our view that all candidates for elective office must pass preliminarily, the four values-based criteria test: integrity, reliability, competence, and commitment. INTEGRITY: standing by your values and be firm in one's views. RELIABILITY is the breeding ground for mutual trust. Evidence of reliability lies in the consistency with which one delivers on commitments and promises. COMPETENCE is the combined effort of knowledge, application, experience and conscientious effort to fulfill the responsibilities of the job. And COMMITMENT is the canalization of one's energy and enthusiasm to the tasks. It calls for a firm mental resolve to fulfill the job at hand and see it through to successful fulfillment. Integrity, reliability, competence and commitment, these four, therein is the primary foundation of the values-based criteria test for candidates for public service.

Our country has a rich tradition of values that has come to represent us as a nation. Americans may not always see eye to eye on political issues, but we will defend the ideals on which our Country is founded. This is a great nation made up of a majority of thinking, conscientious and values-based people. That is the fabric of this great Nation of ours.

Just why is America the greatest country in the world? Just ask those who risk poverty, imprisonment and even death to reach the shores and borders of the United States. No country in history gives more opportunities or has been more successful at enriching more people than the United States. This is why people from around the world are willing to risk their lives to come to America. We have never had to build an iron curtain to keep people in. No power has ever been more benign than the United States. We don't conquer countries, we rebuild them, revitalize them, and we restore within people a hope for freedom. Indeed, the bulwark of America's strength is centered in America's core values of freedom, human rights and individual dignity and the basic principles that are at the root of our exceptionalism.

We live in a time in which asserting universal values may be questioned by some and under assault by others. Despite the murmuring we hear from some, there is a set of values that binds us together as Americans, they are: free trade, a government of, by, and for the people with minimal government intrusion, security of our borders, a Constitution of original intent, and the strength of the free enterprise system. These values are moral, they are universal, and they are the source of our greatness. For America to be not only prosperous but also deserving of prosperity ... these virtues recognize the dignity and worth of the individual. These principles serve as a yardstick of measurement when looking at those who wish to lead and it starts at the grass roots.

We believe that our prosperity, vitality, and productivity is solidly grounded to our fundamental principles. For without the adherence to the principles of individual honesty, self-discipline and trust, there can be no industry. Without the mutual respect that flows from recognizing our individual and common responsibility, there can be no marketplace. To hold to our core American Values, we must hold to our cultural heritage, strengthen our families and free them of unnecessary regulatory burden. We need to value the work ethic, save and invest, assume greater personal responsibility for self, exert greater self discipline, and bolster the climate of precious individual liberty.

In 1776, the Founding Fathers' great hope for the new republic was that it would mark a new beginning in human history: that Americans, in the words of Samuel Adams, would "show the eyes of mankind" that their nation "will be productive of Virtue, moral and political." It is not arrogance for this nation to cherish its heritage. It is not presumptuous for the people to value each individual as an individual human being striving to be free of tyranny and it is not intolerant for this country, with it shortcomings, to strive to be worthy of its calling. These are the values we adhere to and look for in those who say they wish to lead... locally, statewide and nationally. And it all begins at the grass roots, even in the election booth. And that is how I see it FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE.