I’m not qualified. I don’t have the experience. I don’t have the right education. I’m too busy. I’m not political. These are all reasons I’ve heard for not running for office.
I’m confident in saying the first three reasons are nonsense. The next elections will be for village board and mayoral seats. These seats, in the spring, and the town board and supervisor seats in the fall are designed to be filled by people from all walks of life, with different skill sets, different views on governance. The only thing that truly makes you qualified to run for office is a desire to do so. I know contractors, stay at home moms and dads, lawyers, salespeople, farmers, small business owners, all serving their towns and villages on those boards.
While I can’t help with folks being busy, I will say that the busiest people are often given the most to do because somehow, they get it all done. Maybe it’s just not the right time. Fair enough; we have elections for these town and village seats every two years and I’m persistent.
As for the “I’m not political,” let me suggest that politics is not a bad word or something to be shunned. It’s really just another word for negotiation and that’s really all life is, from telling your kid that’s enough TV to asking your boss for a raise or time off. I’m asking you to apply that to government. Negotiate to make your town or village better.
It’s been said we get the government we deserve. If we vote in an uncurious person, we shouldn’t be surprised when they govern only from the knowledge they gained in high school or college, years or decades ago. If we vote in someone who has ethics complaints against them, don’t be surprised if they have ethical challenges or if they are loose with the public’s money, don’t be surprised if they come asking for higher taxes, frequently.
The village elections are March 19. The deadline for getting on the ballot in these elections has passed although you can still run as a write-in candidate. Many of those running for village do not run on Republican or Democrat lines in an effort to make these races less political. The deadline for running for town positions has not passed, however.
Those elections are in November, a long time off, but the work to get on the ballot starts now. You need to collect signatures on a petition to get on the ballot and we start collecting those this week. Even if you’re not sure you want to run or not, get your name on the ballot if you’re interested. Worst case scenario, you’ll meet some of your neighbors and get to know your town better. Just call the Republican Commissioner at the board of elections at 607-274-5521 or call or text me at 607-339-7978 if you’re interested. We’ll let you know how to get involved.
There may be a time when you thought “My government official isn’t listening to me. Why are we doing that? My taxes are being spent on what?” The best or most satisfying answers to those questions may come from you, as an elected official. For some, a town board job may not seem big enough to change anything. I believe the opposite to be true. Town boards control land use, zoning, water districts, sewage, local taxes, local speed limits, and recreation departments. These are the areas that affect you every day. All politics are local and you can’t get much more local than your town.
The Democratic View will be published in the first edition of Tompkins Weekly each month.
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