Sponge Joe Eggelletion is due to be released from prison at the end of next month.

Odds are that he will petition the administration to have his civil rights restored.

As well he should.  There shouldn’t be any problem with reacquiring his right to vote.

But along with that comes every other civil right including the right to run for public office.

Although he’ll likely never run for anything again, we simply cannot deny him or anyone else the “right” to run.

That would be unconstitutional.

But the next best thing is easily available, and it’s something the City of Sunrise has already done.

State and local government must pass laws to require full background checks on anybody who qualifies (pays the fee to run) for public office.

While financial information can be kept out of the public light, criminal information can and must be published for all to see.

In no way would publishing criminal background information be a violation of the candidate’s civil rights.

But failure to inform voters would certainly be a violation of the public’s right to know.

It’s logical extension of Sunshine.

Publishing the information would have given voters the opportunity to make better decisions on electing folks such as Doug McKay in Southwest Ranches and Phyllis Hope on the School Board.

That’s not to say that neither would have been elected.

But it would guarantee that voters would have more information in order to make a more informed choice.

It would also prevent some candidates from running at all.

But there’s more that needs to be done.

Ethics policy needs to be adjusted so that criminal background checks are also required for any applicant for appointment to a local or county board.

Even elected officials should have the right to know whom they’re appointing to their boards.

They need the information to make informed choices, too.

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