There’s one system that’s ruining everything in Alabama, and it’s called the “good ol’ boy” system.

If you’re not familiar with that term of reference, let me explain. It’s nepotism, favoritism and partiality to one’s family, friends or some other person that would return the favor in one way or another.

In Alabama, especially in Marshall County, to get a job or to get elected, it’s more about whom you know rather than what you know. Before we can truly make any real progress, this must stop. If you don’t believe me, I’ll just pass along something I recently heard from a very reliable source.

In the not so distant past, there was a very popular man voted into public office in Marshall County. He was kind and friendly, and everyone knew him. He decided to run for a seat that dealt with the county’s money, and he won. Many people might assume this gentleman had a list of references, a business background, a history in government and knowledge of finances. But, as they often are, those are incorrect assumptions. The man placed in charge of making decisions that would affect every person in the county hadn’t ever held a public office before. He had little-to-no knowledge of business and only had experience with his household finances. He went from driving a delivery truck to running the county, and the county’s residents voted to put him there only because he was well known.

Now I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with a delivery driver elevating himself, but I believe we should elect people that truly deserve the position. Instead of considering the person because you know them or are kin to them, consider the person based on their merit and knowledge.

We should approach choosing a candidate for a job or for political office with common sense and thoroughness. Just in case “common sense isn’t so common,” I’m going to break it down for you all.

To help make better decisions, here are a few principal elements to consider when deciding whom to hire or vote for.

Does the person have experience? Experience is an important factor to consider when hiring or voting. If candidates have shown success in similar jobs or roles, they’re more likely to be able to replicate that success. It just makes more sense to choose a person with a proven track record of success. So, you’ll be making an informed decision, rather than an emotional or biased one.

Does the person have potential? When you’re checking out candidates, you may encounter some people who seem promising, but don’t have much of a track record. They may be recent university graduates, people with only a few years of on-the-job experience or not much experience running for political office. Sometimes, it may be a smart move to take a chance on a newer candidate. For example, you may see that the person is offering a fresh perspective or be able to bring a strong business sense to a role or office. While those candidates haven’t proven themselves in that role yet, they have obvious potential. These types of candidates could grow into top performers and leaders for the community or company.

What “hard skills” do they offer? Hard skills are measurable, easy-to-define skills that people have learned at school or in past jobs. When you’re considering anyone for important roles in your business or community, you can’t ignore hard skills. If candidates don’t have the right skills, it won’t be possible for them to do the job properly.

What “soft skills” do they offer? While hard skills are critical, one shouldn’t forget about soft skills. Soft skills are harder to measure, and they’re often thought of as personality traits. Some examples of soft skills are communication skills, work ethic and being a team player. Candidates could have impressive hard skills, but if they don’t have the right soft skills, they won’t succeed in a business or as a political leader.

We need to change how we choose who to elect and who to hire. We must move past the “good ol’ boy” system. Look beyond the people you already know and try to see who would be best suited for the position. It’s time to take a more enlightened approach, so we can have leaders that are more capable of ensuring a prosperous future.

Nickie Simpson is a staff writer for The Reporter. She can be reached at

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