My favorite endorsements are the unsolicited ones from regular people who feel so strongly about my race that they are compelled to say why. Here is another one, from my friend and co-worker, Marc Parrish. A version of this appears in the September 23 edition of The Williamson County Sun:

There’s a famous story from 1952. That year’s presidential election featured two major party candidates, Republican Dwight Eisenhower and Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Both were reflective, sober men of state, entirely appropriate for the highest office in the land. An elderly American woman was interviewed by the papers about her preference, and she expressed reluctance to respond. Why was she undecided? Because the country “will be in good hands either way.”

Many of us are straight ticket political party voters, or reliably lean towards one party or another. This post is not really intended for that audience. It’s for all of the others. Those who often self-identify as independent and who believe themselves to hold views that do not always neatly fit within the ideological spectrum. I’m talking about a group that feels comfortable with actual disagreement, but laments the negative trends in our national discourse. Sadly, we’re cruder, more vulgar, and more personal.

This trend is dramatically evident today at the very top, in the highest office of the land. It’s trickled down to all of us in varying degrees; some of us are dedicated to undoing all of that rhetorical damage. One thing all political hands know well is that if one can respectfully disagree where there is no common ground, progress can still be made where there is. Once the vulgarity arrives, all possibility of collaboration ends.

Blane Conklin is running for Williamson County Judge; he is a friend, and a colleague. I’ve had the privilege of working with Blane at the University of Texas System for over a decade. He is smart, confident, and accomplished. He’s also decent. That’s a quality in public servants that has been notably lacking, and one that I increasingly admire. When one meets Blane, the decency is impossible to miss. He will look you in the eye, tell you he has a difference of opinion, and then ask how your family is doing. That’s why I’m knocking on the doors of voters in Williamson County. I know there are voters who like me still prioritize these values.

We all would love for our politics to triumph at the ballot box in every election cycle at every level. The reality is that our electoral choices will lose, and lose often. In those situations, competence and decency become paramount. We all want and need to know that, like that famous elderly woman from 1952, our country, state, or county “will be in good hands either way.”

If you are a Williamson County self-declared independent who is frustrated with the direction our politics has taken, please consider a vote for Blane Conklin. And while we’re at it, let’s get our national discourse back on track. We’re better than this.