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Christine Kramer here! YAY! My one “skeleton is out of the closet,” finally! Now the rest of Benton County knows what many already knew and I no longer feel the inner turmoil I have felt over the past couple of months, knowing it was there, looming and waiting to be discovered.

Of course when I made the choice to run for public office I was aware and resigned to the fact I would be opening up my entire life, past and present to public scrutiny. It comes with the territory. For me, it was a tough decision to not be forthright from the start about my 1985 conviction for possession of a controlled substance. As a matter of fact, it was gut-wrenching.

Family and friends gave me the loving advice to keep it to myself until asked, then when it inevitably came up, to be open and honest about it. They worried that I would be judged on that one tiny moment of my life, instead of the entirety of my being. Excellent advice, coming from a good place! I agreed that was not the first thing I wanted people to know about me or focus on. Thank you to each and every one of you!! I am glad I listened!

Being open and honest about it is how I have been since 1985, in spite of the embarrassment I feel. I have disclosed it on all job applications. I have disclosed it on the volunteer background forms at all of my daughter’s schools. I have disclosed it on my Boys & Girls Club volunteer form. There are also many friends that I have shared it with over the years.

The candidacy form does not ask about it and having a felony conviction does not make a person ineligible for office. As I told reporter Bennett Hall when we spoke, I don’t hide it and I don’t brag about it either.

I hate that it exists!! During Barack Obama’s terms as President, I wrote to him requesting a pardon, so I could have it removed from my otherwise spotless record. His office did respond, informing me that because it was not a federal crime, I would need to contact the governor of the state it occurred in. As it stands today, I have not yet accomplished this, but I intend to.

In closing, I am not making any excuses for it. This mistake made by the 18-year-old me belongs to me and I will own it forever. It does not however, define me or my character. Good or bad, no one thing should define anyone.

If I could go back to that night on July 3, 1985, I would refuse to go with those two friends for that drive and I would not have this felony conviction. But I did go and I  cannot change that no matter how many years pass.

I am ready, willing and able to serve this county and if elected I promise to bring the very best of what I have to the position.

Christine Kramer is a Democratic candidate for a seat on the Benton County Board of Commissioners.