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Am I the only one appalled by the obscene waste of money we squander to elect our public officials? This has always been an "elect the least of evils" situation but it has, for years, been growing continually worse.

With the downward spiral that our country is in, such waste is insane. Our present elected officials are doing nothing toward election reform. I have a feeling that everyone in the country knows we need a change, except those in Washington.

I submit the following:

Anyone seeking office must meet certain uniform criteria that relates to a specific office.

Finance all elections with public money. Yes, this would be a burden on us "ordinary" people, but it would mean that the elected officials would be beholden to us rather than the large corporations and wealthy individuals. As it is, they are beholden to the corporations that elected them.

Standardize all campaigns. Each candidate would only have just so many minutes of television time, so many newspaper ads, so many billboards, so many town meetings, etc. This would eliminate these brutally expensive campaigns, by paring down the cost drastically. All campaign ads would feature only the candidate.

For instance, a television ad would consist of the candidate speaking before a blue screen with perhaps an American flag in the background. Nothing else. All campaign efforts (print, town meetings, etc.) would similarly be standardized. This would open the opportunity for the average person to run for office against a super wealthy one. The wealthy would have no more clout than the average person.

This would also drastically minimize the "mudslinging." The average person will get a better understanding of what that candidate is like and what he or she will do for them without the "eyewash" of an ad agency's manipulation of the public. This would also pare down the insufferable pounding that we get during elections.

Another benefit would be that candidates, once elected, can then immediately turn their attention to the job at hand, NOT turn their attention to scrounging money for their next election.

Millions of dollars saved could be put to much better use.

Many, if not most of those in office now have never mowed a lawn, never had to wonder where they are going to get money for a washing machine, never had to sweat getting their kids' teeth worked on - have ever dealt with the real world. It will take a very determined public to make this happen.

My suggestion here would open up our elections to "real" public servants, not egos. Millions would be saved, even if we would impose the third item above.

Yes, there would be loopholes and yes, we would have to refine this plan over several elections. But the idea is to get honest public service officials, with the ordinary citizens needs in mind. Think election reform!

John Stockard