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Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013
An open letter to anyone on the election ballotPosted Friday, September 19, 2008, at 3:13 PM
An open letter to everyone on the ballot for this year's General Election.
Dear political candidate:
The General Election is just 45 days away and I have seen the hordes of political signs popping up in yards and along Greene County roadways.
The choices are many.
The other day while I was making my daily road commute through from my humble home in Cass Township to my office in Linton, I thought about all the political signs I was passing.
Tradition would have you come and knock on my door and ask for my vote.
That's good, but I hope the informed voters of this county will ask for more than that.
How much do I really know about you as a candidate?
I see your name, but do I know you?
Perhaps a more important question is, why are you running for public office?
What are your motives?
Are your intentions honorable?
I've got to admit my job as a journalist, who has covered a lot of governmental meetings over the years, has allowed me the opportunity to meet and get to know most of you folks seeking office on the ballot this year.
Most of the incumbents I have seen in action first-hand and know very clearly how you have performed since raising your right hands and taking your respective oaths of office when your terms started.
The ones who haven't been elected before possess a certain mystery about how you will perform if entrusted by the public with a majority of the votes.
I've got to be real honest, some people shouldn't hold public office, because they seek the position for all the wrong reasons.
Do you need a road paved in front of your house or the house of a friend, neighbor, old classmate or a relative?
Do any of your relatives or buddies need a job?
Or, do you want to fire a coach?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, you won't get my vote.
How are you going to keep my taxes low and the level of essential services high?
We need law enforcement, ambulance service, fire protection and a tough judicial system and it will be your job to find a way to provide those things.
Are you going to look forward and do your part to help create a good business climate in our county so more jobs will come to our communities?
Are you going to be one who can think ahead and plan ahead?
Are you going to be a good steward of every penny of tax money you are entrusted over?
Are you going to think about how the education of my children and the children of our future generations is going to be better served by the decisions you make if you are elected?
Some of you probably shouldn't be elected because you are unable to listen to the voters or your fellow board or council members with an open mind.
If you leave the "know-it-all" attitudes at the door before you sit at the governing table we will all be better served.
So why are you running?
I hope it's not for the money?
Dave Frohnmayer, president of the University of Oregon, wrote a piece on why people run for political office and he says, "Perhaps, for some reason that only a movie script -- or years of therapy -- can reveal, we need to have our egos satisfied. Maybe it is some insatiable and non-rational desire to win … Perhaps it is even some undiagnosed desire to suffer …"
Public service in our hometown communities is an important job and one that shouldn't be approached lightly or for the wrong reasons.
Serving in an elected office is often times a thankless job, likened to coaching Little League baseball.
From the candidates I will support I want a sense of service, trusteeship and even obligation.
Your election is the overt display of the representative government which we enjoy. You are in office because the majority of the folks have given you the chance to serve as our representatives.
I admire everyone who gets into public service. It is much easier to sit back and just complain.
The historian and social philosopher Sidney Hook said it this way: "So long as they are permitted to grumble, most people are gratefully relieved to find someone to do their chores, whether they are household chores or political chores. Politics is a messy business, and life is short. We put up with a great many evils in order to avoid the trouble of abolishing them."
I want my candidates to be good people, the kind of person who exercises good judgment, who under great stress can do right for a whole lot of people. I want to vote for the candidate who isn't afraid to stand up for their beliefs, even when the rest of their governing peers believe they are wrong.
I want to vote for a person who is willing to listen, compromise -- when necessary -- and freely express his or her opinion in an open public meeting.
Can you be that kind of candidate for me and my neighbors?
If so, you have my vote.
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