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These reports show just how transparent candidates want to be with the public

This week, the seven candidates taking part in Tuesday’s Democratic Party primaries — part of the Vicksburg municipal elections — were required to file campaign finance reports, detailing their spending and their fundraising efforts.

Now, we could go off into a tirade of sorts about the lack of transparency showing the reporting — how some provided more detailed accounting for their contributions and spending — or how three candidates vying for the city’s top office simply forgot about a well-documented filing deadline, but instead, it is important to focus on the information that was provided, as inadequate or incomplete as it seemed.

At a cursory glance of the accounting, it would appear that Tuesday’s primary election has drawn a tremendously low amount of interest from local voters. Each of the candidates showed contribution forms with only a handful of contributors. Either they failed to report all of those who have donated, or — and we hope this is the case due to a call for true accounting — that there are just not that many out there willing to chip into the campaigns at this point.

These reports also show spending varies wildly among the candidates and the races. 

And, just like with the contributions, the level of detail provided by some candidates leaves plenty of questions of just what is being spent, to whom it is being spent and why more detail on those campaign dollars is not provided. There seems to be plenty of questions and innuendos, but again, it is our hope that each of the candidates were completely honest and transparent.

These reports are not just needed to know who in the community — or outside the community — is supporting the campaigns and where candidates are spending that money, but it is a test of just how open they want to be with the voting public and how accountable they feel they are to voters.

This is a test. Not only did some of the candidates not meet the deadlines, but there are real concerns about how open these candidates want to be with the public and that is a problem.

If they do not want to provide a full accounting of what they are doing with their campaigns, then how can we trust them with millions in taxpayer dollars?

For public officials to be effective they must first earn the trust of the public. Let us hope that those who advance to June’s general election take this reporting more seriously when those campaign finance reports are due in late May.