It goes without saying that 2020 is a crucial election year. Not only is it a quadricentennial Presidential election, but the Covid-19 pandemic and aggressive oil production from Saudi Arabia and Russia put have put our country and its economy in great peril.

I believe most of us already know which party’s candidate we will support in the general election. The primary, although awkward at best via social distancing and absentee ballots, is in just over two weeks. It’s time for all of us in the East Mountains to do some research on the major party primary candidates. This week I am going to share the criteria most important for me.

Platform. Republicans this fall are going to campaign in support of Trump, the Second Amendment, and rebuilding the economy. Democrats will be campaigning against the President, for red flag laws, and rebuilding the economy. We all know that. In the primary, the candidates have the opportunity to share their policy views with us, not just their political party.

Here is what I want to know from national candidates:

How much more stimulus do you support?

What is your plan to bring spending back to pre-2020 levels?

What is your plan to actually, no kidding, address immigration, besides turning a blind eye to employers who exploit undocumented workers?

What should our national posture be with regard to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea?

Here is what I want to know from state candidates:

What must be done to balance the state budget for the next three years?

What is your vision for public education reform?

What is your position on the state’s gross receipts tax, tax on Social Security, and tax on military pensions?

How do you think the state should address infrastructure and other inequality between rural and urban areas?

Your message. I am very interested in how your deliver your message and the type of campaign you run.

Do you run on your record and beliefs, or only attack your opponent?

If you run a negative campaign, is it fact-based and documented or do you manipulate the truth?

If your opponent attacks you, do you respond in kind (see: CD2 GOP primary) or correct the record and move on?

Are you good at thinking on your feet and a comfortable public speaker?

Your actions. This is where I definitely take the “person over party” approach. What you do, as a public figure, and why, matters.

What is your tenure in the community you wish to represent? Did you move to the district just to run for office?

If an elected official, what is your voting record and what initiatives have you sponsored?

Are you actively available to voters or constituents with office hours, virtual town halls, or by phone or email?

Do you “walk the walk?” If you campaign on 2a, do you actually own a firearm? If campaigning on education, are you active with local schools as a volunteer or board member?

What have you been doing during the pandemic? Have you tried to direct the public to community resources? Do you promulgate common-sense public health information? Have you volunteered your time or your expertise?

This election cycle has to be more than simply lip service to the major parties. Our nation and our state are in crisis; candidates must make it clear to voters that they are running for the right reasons and offer real solutions.

Merritt Hamilton Allen is a PR executive and a former Navy officer. A political conservative, she lives amicably with her Democratic husband and Republican mother north of I-40 where they run two head of dog, and two of cat.