Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Voting in Tuesday’s Primary Election . . . A Public Fiduciary Responsibility

With just a few days until Primary Election Day, I thought that the following Letter to the Editor which appears in this week’s Suburban Main Line Life newspaper is particularly appropriate. Please take the time to read the words of attorney Eugene Grace of Paoli — it is important for all of us to be part of the process. In Mr. Grace’s words, ” . . . Our right to vote empowers us to choose officials to whom we entrust our most sacred possession, our freedom. . . “

To the Editor:

A fiduciary is a person or entity who serves another party in a representative capacity, subject to a fiduciary obligation. A fiduciary obligation is a legal principle that requires the fiduciary to act solely in the best interest of the party being represented (principal). A fiduciary obligation may require that a fiduciary act contrary to self-interests in pursuit of the best interests of the principal.

Public officials are elected to office with the understanding that they will pursue the best interests of their respective constituencies. Public officials are heavily burdened with ethical requirements to ensure that their conduct is not self-interested. Another thread in the American form of government is that we are a republic. This means that legislative matters are voted upon by elected officials, not by the people directly. Essentially we give our legislators the power of our proxy. This governmental form gives the elected official a certain degree of flexibility in interpreting his or her mandate in carrying out the will of the people as he or she understands it. This allows an elected official to introduce an element of personal conscience into the calculus of his or her vote on a particular issue. Elected officials must determine whether their constituency is for, against, confused or neutral on any matter.

Politicians risk their office if they disregard the desires of their electoral base. Like a fiduciary, they cannot vote to bestow a benefit on themselves and should not vote in a manner which is inconsistent with the proxy given to them by their electorate. It is up to each separate electoral district to determine whether its legislators’ overall voting record is consistent with their core values of freedom, due process and common sense.

The law requires that a fiduciary be faithful to his or her principal. Elected officials owe that duty to their constituents. Every election day, constituents have the final say on the degree to which their elected officials have been faithful to those principles. Remember that many local elections are settled on primary day, which will be next Tuesday, May 18. Our right to vote empowers us to choose officials to whom we entrust our most sacred possession, our freedom. Please vote.

Eugene P. Grace, Paoli

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