This past weekend, I posted two unofficial survey questions on my Facebook page. The first asked whether or not partisan politics caused people not to vote. The second question asked if people thought good ideas came from people of differing parties.
So now I’ll confess: I didn’t really care what the answers were be. I was going to use them as a stepping stone for my big announcement.
But allow me to backtrack a moment….
My background as a Kansan included a childhood friendship with Alf Landon’s granddaughter (for those of you who wouldn’t remember, Mr. Landon was the GOP presidential candidate against FDR’s re-election), idolization of the leadership and goodness of Eisenhower and…well, Bob Dole’s aunt lived around the corner from my grandmother. I suppose I was destined to become a Republican. Although my grandmother probably always voted a straight ticket, perhaps her biggest political legacy to me was that we Republicans should always represent our country and our party with grace and honor. That has become an almost obsessive philosophy for me as I’ve become more and more involved in public service.
My first campaign for mayor of Huntersville, therefore, found me fairly naive and honestly stunned when I stumped at the polls and heard some fellow Republicans touting my opponent as the “only” Republican candidate on the ballot, when in actuality, I was the only Republican candidate seeking the position that had served in office — for eight years. My second campaign found me a bit more jaded when the “anonymous” flyer about the suspicions of me and conspiracy to murder went to over 700 households and my new GOP opponent claimed, at a Republican-sponsored event, that the difference between us was like Olympia Snow and Jim DeMint.
Luckily, I survived those experiences and am now in my third term on what is, by charter, a non-partisan board. A non-partisan board that is made of people of differing ages, experiences, religions, party backgrounds…and who HAVE to work together on behalf of the citizens they represent.
When I was a high school student on the speech and debate team, prior to each tournament debate, each round we were assigned the side we’d debate — affirmative or negative. We would spend hours preparing arguments for both sides of an issue and learn the appropriate counter-responses we’d get from the other team. I realized recently that this training has been invaluable for me as a public servant — I think I am more able to understand that not every opinion is the right opinion. There truly is value in listening.
Many years ago, I heard a retired political leader say, “the other party has good ideas, too”, and that has stuck with me. As I watch the current primaries and see four current members of my OWN party bash each other, I cannot help but be disturbed.
So as I come back to the future, I will admit that the recent opening of U.S. Representative Sue Myrick’s seat held an interest to me. I sought the advice of a political consultant and want to share the interesting aspects of it: First of all, the sign up fee alone is close to $2,000. After that, in today’s campaigning world, estimates are that nearly $1.0 to $2.0 million per candidate will need to be spent on campaigning for Rep. Myrick’s seat. That is give or take, of course, and will grow for the candidates who win the primaries. We currently have eight Republican candidates vying for the position, with at least one or two more slated to sign up in these final days. And we will have several Democratic candidates. We will have debates, travel, television and radio ads, emails, direct mail, robo calls — all necessities for a candidate to win.
So who will win the seat? The true political servant who would like to make a difference, the candidate with the most money, the person with the strong party backing (which I contend comes at the expense of the “listening to others” philosophy)? And once elected, will our new candidate be willing to change the things that most of us are so tired of — the partisan politics and standstills that do not move us closer together as a country, but more apart as a people…?
So, my big announcement was going to be that I was going to become an Independent, forgo fundraising and just drive my dented Hyundai Santa Fe to meetings of the people and merely take gas money. I wanted to be the idealist that tried to go to Washington to truly make a difference…. And then I read an email recently released from Sarah Palin: “One has to be single, wealthy, or corrupt to function in this political system.” Love her or hate her, she hit the nail on the head.
So, I am going to stay in Huntersville, working on all the really great things ahead, pushing regionalism, watching the kids I’ve coached and substitute taught grow up to be those who can change the world. And I’m asking for your assistance: Join me in figuring out how we can be the change, how we can stop partisan politics, how we, the PEOPLE, can be the loud voices once again. Let’s not allow the pocketbooks dictate who we put in office. Let us instead have our voices heard by getting out to vote and showing that we really, truly, want to make a difference.
I look forward to each day as Mayor of Huntersville. I am proud of the good work our board does in talking with each other, listening and compromising. I am surrounded by very good and decent people and it truly is my honor to serve.