Dear Source,
There seems to be a general impression that the only real way to serve the public is by being elected to an office. Many of us know that is an erroneous perception of public service. There are quite a number of us residents who are not elected to office but we are active in community service, whether as volunteers or paid public servants – and mostly, as volunteers.
We take our mission seriously by remaining committed to our task. So why are so many individuals choosing to run for public office, for an elected post in government? Many of them have no track record as public servants or even as community activists. But they present themselves as viable alternatives to the incumbents, making promises they know fully well they cannot fulfill. That is demagoguery.
Many choose to run as independent candidates, although they are registered in a political party. That in itself sends a red flag to my mind concerning those candidates that — despite being registered in a political party — chose to run as independents. That indicates to me a lack of loyalty, a lack of discipline and a lack of political convictions. Many of these candidates have no true track record of community service.
They offer solutions that reveal their dishonesty and/or ignorance. Some offer to reduce the price of gasoline, which we know is controlled by the marketplace and not by the Legislature. Others offer to resolve the crime problems by increasing the number of police officers, without taking in consideration the real problem of the organization, which is low morale due to inadequate leadership. Some offer to get back accreditation for our high schools without a plan for improving the academic standards of our school system. These same candidates are notorious for their absences from public hearings and other community forums where the public could be exposed to their ideas and leadership qualities. I believe if elected they also will be notorious for their absences from meetings.
It would be much to the candidates' and the voting public's advantage if candidates were to expose their ideas and leadership skills long before campaigning for office. My point here is that many of us have done and can do much to improve our community without being elected to office. What is the real motivating factor, money?
There are many areas in which persons who are willing and able to serve can do so without being elected to office. They can do volunteer service individually or with any number of the "non-governmental organizations" of our community. I believe that will be showing true patriotism, love for this community. With such a background of community service as part of a candidate’s dossier, most skeptical persons would be impressed.
In a democratic system the people get the government they elect and, some would say, what they deserve. In any case one thing is inescapable: we decide who we want to represent us. Therefore we should attempt to know as much about the candidates as possible to be sure they are the right ones to represent our values, our agenda. But we all should assume more responsibility in controlling our government by selecting and electing persons who have knowledge, integrity and goodwill.
Not all of us can be elected to office or want to be elected, but all of us can and should be active in our community affairs. We can and should look around our community to identify prospective candidates to represent us in government and not wait for candidates to come to us. We should support the candidates that we select to represent us on all levels, with our time, funds and ideas. Those of us who are affiliated with a political party should be active in the party, preparing prospective leaders for the party and the government.
J.J. Estemac
St. Thomas
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