It’s not hard to understand why 75 percent of readers in this week’s online poll say that they wouldn’t consider running for national political office.
In the current political climate, you might as well be a martyr instead because someone will try to burn you at the stake, at least metaphorically.
I’m a little more encouraged by the number of folks who said they would at least consider a local run. In the results published in our Jan. 28 issue, 20 percent of readers said yes and 25 percent were willing enough to say “maybe.”
Public service is a noble calling and not everyone is cut out for it.
First of all, it requires serving the public. And that means all of them in the area you were elected to represent, even if they didn’t vote for you.
And it’s not a popularity contest. Even if people like you before you get elected, every vote you make is an opportunity to draw the ire of your constituency. It’s impossible to make all of the people happy all of the time.
It’s a lot of work for little or no pay.
Whether it’s the school board, city council, county commissioners court or the hospital district, elected officials are required to read reams of reports, applications, proposals, bids and many other fascinating (yawn) documents.
I can say this because I’ve often had to read them, too, as part of my job. Not a bodice-ripper nor spy thriller among them.
You’ll also have to go on fact-finding missions, do research and listen and respond to endless calls, emails and unsolicited comments everywhere you go.
Meetings can be long and boring or short and dull. I’ve been covering public meetings for going on 30 years and I have yet to see fisticuffs break out – though the cub reporter deep inside remains eternally optimistic.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but throwing a wild punch would definitely liven things up and make a good headline.
The most excitement you’ll experience is someone getting a little fired up and slamming a binder down on a conference table.
Occasionally, a controversial topic will draw a crowd of angry or interested voters who will show up at a meeting or two. That’s when it gets interesting, because it’s encouraging to see citizens participating in government.
So, having painted this picture, why would anyone willingly volunteer to campaign for and hold public office?
Simply put, it’s one of the most important jobs in any community. Decisions affect our quality of life. In some cases, they can mean life or death.
It’s a big responsibility. But so is holding down a job, getting married, raising a family and many other things we do every day.
It also can be tremendously rewarding. It is an opportunity to do good and to leave a mark on the community.
One thing is certain: It’s not a decision to make lightly.
But I encourage each and every one of you to think about what you have to offer. The community needs thoughtful, communicative, open-minded citizens to step up and represent us in all levels of government.
You still have time to file to run in elections for city council, mayor and the hospital district’s board of directors. Unsure if you have what it takes?
Visit with your political party’s leadership in the county or call and talk to the person currently serving in the position. Make an educated decision.
As for the rest of us, don’t forget to vote.
Gwin Grimes is the editor and publisher of the Alpine Avalanche. She can be reached at 432-837-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org or 118 N. 5th St.