We would like to thank all of the candidates running for local office. Every person who takes the time to run for a city or village council position should be congratulated for their willingness to serve our community. Equally, school board positions or any other local-elected position is a point of community pride.
Traditionally, local people rooted in the community made a decision to run for office. Once in awhile, you had a person with an ax to grind, but generally you had people that cared about our community. Local elections proceeded with a minimum of political games.
The candidates talked about who they were, why they cared, the decision making capacity they had to offer. Voters didn’t select people because of a slick image or ability to imitate politicians. Knowledge, experience and personality all impacted a voter’s decision.
From time to time, a few candidates for local office get influenced by what they see and hear in state and national media. A trap exists in believing that to be a local candidate, you have to sound or act like a state or national candidate. The focus drifts from the community toward the candidate’s ego.
Local candidates don’t have to have an answer for every question, comment on every event or invent a grand plan for every issue. Attempting to spin an issue or question to the advantage of a particular candidate is and looks pathetic. Simply, it’s about us and not what makes the candidate temporarily popular.
How people campaign for office will always be a candidate’s decision. The processes of an election can disconnect a person from their sense of compassion. The mindset develops that anything within the scope of the law is allowed. Unfortunately, everything that is legal is not a good idea.
A fundamental difference between local elections and state and national elections is that the demons invented in local elections are not far away and removed. State and national candidates can live largely separated lives. In a local election, candidates still have to live in the same community once the election is over.
The irony lies in the fact that getting elected to local office and doing a decent job once elected is much easier than inventing a political face. All the candidate need do is be honest. You don’t have to communicate a new improved image of yourself. All that is required is the ability to place the interests of the community above yourself. Yes, it’s that simple.
Our community maintains some old-fashioned ideas about public life. We believe that our community values duty, dignity and decorum in elections and public life. National and state media frequently don’t reflect our small town American values. Nevertheless, local candidates get bombarded with the idea that to serve the community they have to become junior politicians. Thankfully, maturity and judgment allows the majority of candidates to avoid the trap of allowing themselves to become more important than the community.
In this election season, we wish all candidates success. Duty, dignity and decorum will always be of greater value than the outcome of any election. We hope that candidates remember that in a small community you can’t hide from yourself. If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, trying to distract from that or inventing a political image won’t work. Again, it’s about the community and not the individual.