It is not terribly uncommon to hear an ousted politician make an incredibly poignant statement. What is rare – and one of the things I love about our local politicians – is to hear one make a heartfelt, spot-on statement he or she actually means.
Because he no longer sits on the school board, I feel it is now appropriate to thank John Flores for his decade of service to the children and taxpayers of this community. Although as a voter, I may not have always agreed with him, he more than earned my respect as a professional over the last five years.
Without exception, Mr. Flores has been open, fair and courteous with me, regardless of whether I was defending or beating up the school board.
I have to confess it was a bit bittersweet on Monday evening, to bid farewell to the last board member who has been around longer than I have.
That said, as Mr. Flores addressed the board for the first time in this millennium as an average citizen, he offered a piece of advice to the currently-seated and newly elected board members which I hope they remember. In fact, his advice was so clear, concise and accurate I feel the need to suggest it to the rest of our community leaders, as well as to the handful of state and national representatives who have staff members read our paper each week.
“Do this job every day as if you were up for election.”
Our expectation that our national leaders will say whatever they have to say to get elected, and do whatever they want once they get elected is something of a national joke. The problem is this notion is so ingrained into the fabric of our national consciousness that the joke is no longer funny. Our leaders have stopped doing their jobs as though they were facing an election. Instead, they do their jobs when and as they please, and stop working altogether to campaign for elections.
On the local level things are more clearly focused. During elections, candidates fall all over themselves to find out what We the People are thinking about, and what we care about. Some care about the same things; some don’t. The good ones learn to care about the same things We the People care about.
The bad ones don’t.
On the local level, our leaders often make it to the boardroom and forget to keep talking to the folks. The good ones still answer calls and listen to the concerns of their constituents. The bad ones act as though their seat at the table makes them some sort of god, inaccessible to and unconcerned by the lowly voters. Either way, they seem to stop doing their jobs as though they are up for election.
What We the People need to remember is that each and every one of our elected officials IS up for re-election. Maybe not this year; maybe not next… but eventually, each elected seat in the city, the county, the State and the Nation WILL be on a ballot.
Who do you want in that seat? Do you want someone that does his or her job as though they are seeking re-election, remembering they are chosen by voters and are meant to act as John Q. Public’s link to the government, or would you rather have someone who sees voters as a means to an end?