It’s hard to believe that this year’s general election is just around the corner. On the other hand, it seems it has taken forever to get to this important date.

I am not going to take this space or your time to suggest how to vote. Just vote. We are blessed in this country to be able to openly discuss our feelings about the candidates, to debate the pros and cons of each one and then cast our individual votes.

It takes some time to study the issues, the candidates and their views. I believe it is getting harder to obtain accurate information about the candidates. I am among the 50-some percent of the country that feels the general “news” media is biased and not giving us the true, whole story. If you have ever talked to a reporter on a topic and then seen or heard the story, you probably know firsthand what I’m talking about. I have also talked with many military personnel, including a nephew currently in Iraq. We are not getting anywhere near the amount of true, good news that is occurring over there.

When choosing leaders, it is important to observe how the candidates stack up to a set of values and criteria that are important to each of us as individuals. It should also be important to know how each candidate treats the entity that they are being chosen to lead. Which candidate is going to look out for the majority of the constituents and who has a record of looking out for themselves?

The expected integrity of the individual should be the same at any level.

The funds of any group belongs to the members. In the case of the nation, we, and the leaders, must remember that they should always be considering and talking about “our funds.” The only funds they have to work with are what we supply—or what they are willing to contribute from their own, personal accounts. Since I can’t remember any elected officials offering their own money to solve a problem or fund a program, we must remind them that it is our money. If you question that, take a look at your pay stub and see how much you contribute each pay period. Also take a look at each year’s tax returns. Whether you get a refund or not, there is a very important line that shows your contribution. It was your money before it was deducted.

Our country was founded on certain principles. It’s up to us to make sure our elected officials stick to them.

Take the time to know the candidates (at any level) and cast your vote for the leadership that you are willing to follow.

The author is a contributing editor for SportsField Management.