29 March 2007

Great Leaders

"All politics is local," they say (or, rather, Tip O'Neill said). This is usually seen as advice to politicians to take care of their home district if they want to be re-elected.

But it's equally important for citizens to remember. Important decisions that have demonstrable impacts on our lives are made by those friends and neighbors of ours who decide to sit on local councils and boards.

That's why I liked the advice the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner gives today:

The pending departures of Mayor Thompson and Councilman Cleworth, whatever you think of their beliefs about city government, are a loss for the city. Both men are exceptionally knowledgeable about the workings of the city government. They know its abilities and its shortcomings. They know its potential.

So now, four months ahead of the filing deadline, is when people should be thinking about who their next batch of leaders will be.

Just five people ran for the two City Council seats on last year’s ballot. It was the same in 2005. Mayor Thompson and Councilman Seeliger ran unopposed in 2004. Just three people, including an incumbent, ran for the two council seats on the 2003 ballot.

Where are the rest of the great minds that we know live in Fairbanks?

No doubt those people are reluctant to step into a difficult situation not of their making and face the constant sour tone of talk radio and the disparaging comments that often pockmark the City Council meetings.

But needed those great minds are.

Election Day is a long way away but it's not too early too think about using it as an opportunity to change the direction of your community by suffering the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" (to toss another gratuitous quotation in there) and serving.

1 comment:

First Alaskan Man said...

“No good deed goes unpunished” and in this, the punished is the public. I see a dearth of any leadership in most places I visit anymore. Something as ennobling as serving the public is now vilified thanks to the magnification, not to mention the amplification of a misstep taken by an elected official. Most times it is something trite.
Now we see most communities ruled by committee rather then a single vision. We don’t see the Jim Whitaker or Mark Hamilton kind of leaders who are willing to jump front and center and take the heat and lead. Most are content to hide in a committee where they can all claim “consensus” for their individual failings. I try not to remember that the best I heard on committees was that a camel is a horse: done by a committee.
Jessie, it goes back to your observation that reporters aren’t the hard nosed investigators they once were. Now they take things at prima facie value with legislators flying lead balloons like House Speaker Harris and his silly claim that we didn’t communicate the Ocean Ranger Program. The presses’ budget tightening, strict spending outlines and overheads have reduced what used to be a watchdog group to one dependant on handouts from the politicians. Remember how Ruedrich used to have the Republicans in closed door meetings in Juneau and we had to wait until they gave a scoop to some reporter that they weren’t upset with? I digress….
Long story short, as you well know, becoming a “public figure” brings with it the right of the press to dig in the most private and sometimes painful past. At other times, the press, like during the John Kennedy Administration, left it as their prerogative that discretion was indeed the better part of valor. Yet we are seeing more and more of the press turning around and enjoy printing all the mud slinging as it doesn’t cost a dime in investigative dollars and the liability is not theirs to shoulder. It is a sad fact of political life and they too have to survive in a changing world.
In the end, it is the public that loses out when good people refuse to serve. I’ll be sorry to see Steve Thompson leaving the Fairbanks political scene; he is indeed “a man to ride the river with”.