06/16/09 — Before you file: Examine what elective office involves -- and your motivations

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Before you file: Examine what elective office involves -- and your motivations

Perhaps this is a good time, with election filings coming up within the next 30 days, to remind those who are considering serving their community in various positions of authority just what the job does and does not entail.

Now, granted, this list of duties and responsibilities would be better off sent to those who are in more exalted company -- the North Carolina General Assembly or the hallowed halls of Congress to be exact -- but, for now, perhaps the local public servants could simply share with their fellow politicians.

First off, truly, if you are getting into public service for the money, forget it.

If you do it right, you will not come close to being fully compensated for the time and effort you put into the job. Constituents will call you at all hours of the day or night. That's how it goes when you are the guy or gal making the decisions.

And if, by some chance, you see public service as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, let us warn you -- those days are long gone. The people of North Carolina have been the victims of too many people who took the job just to get ahead. We have no intention of putting anyone in office anywhere who is looking for fame and fortune on the backs of the taxpayers. We cannot afford service like that anymore. And since we have been victims of such transgressions so many times in Raleigh this year, we know the signs.

And then there is the little matter of favors. Taking on a public office is not a license to find jobs for your family or buddies or to otherwise use your position to get your personal projects passed through the wheels of government more quickly.

Again, if that is your goal, look elsewhere.

We expect you to speak up for this community -- at the state level and all the way up to the federal government if necessary. You are our voice.

And also we need you to act in the interests of all the citizens, not just those with the loudest voices or the biggest bank accounts. If something is wrong or does not serve the public's interest, we expect you to speak up. And if someone is not being reasonable, we expect you to make sure the local government response is reasoned and fair.

Pretty much, the standard we expect you to adhere to is the same one most of us learned when we were kids -- ethics.

There are many, many public servants who really are looking out for the people they serve and who do the best they can to make decisions that are fair and just and will serve the best interest of the community.

Many of their names are on the rolls as current and past members of some of the public bodies on which you seek to serve.

And last but not least, we need to remember that when we vote for you, we are putting our trust in you -- as well as our community and our children's futures.

Keep that in mind as you sign that pre-election paperwork.

Published in Editorials on June 16, 2009 11:34 AM