We get asked, “Who do you recommend in this election?” Our answer is usually some variant of, “Choose the boring person.”
Boring isn’t necessarily bad, and in this situation, it usually represents someone who has the practical matters of the office in firm sight, rather than a speculative vision of what they would like it to be.
Case in point, city council elections.
Four towns in the county have council, and mayor, positions up next month. How do you differentiate between these individuals to determine who gets your precious votes, especially when they may all be saying the same thing, or they may be newcomers to public service?
Did they bore you with their answers, or did they tickle your ear? If the latter, well, there may be an issue here.
Because government is boring. Really. And city council is government’s most basic level where all that drudgery is thoroughly handled through meeting after meeting of deliberation and process.
But such a process, in turn, provides the most important services for a community that impacts its members at the core of their lives.
Streets: Good transportation infrastructure gets us efficiently to our jobs, schools, products to and from market, and to places where we can recreate.
Public safety: Well-trained and equipped emergency services protect the lives and property of citizens, deter crime, involve residents in prevention efforts, and provide a positive well-being that adds to a community’s quality of life.
Water and sewer: In it comes, and out it goes. Water is a precious resource to be protected and provided efficiently, with as little waste as possible. Wastewater needs to be treated properly, both for human health and its impact upon the environment.
City planning and regulation: “The needs of the many” have to be considered when people cluster together in neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas. Ordinances need to reflect this, balanced with community sensibilities, and watched over by elected officials who temper this with understanding law was made to help people live together and not for people to serve the law.
In discussing government, we hear about “tossing the bums out,” and “all politicians are crooks.” Some feed upon this grumbling and promise action in response, to carry out ideas these governing bodies are not mandated to conduct. These individuals have exciting agendas, but it’s largely the equivalent of political junk food; good for the moment’s craving, but lacking nutritional content.
Still undecided on your candidate picks for Nov. 5, whether city council or school board? You may want to see who bores you the most, who has the dull understandings of utility management and comprehensive plans on their agendas, who is willing to sit through several weeks of meetings to plan out the next year’s fiscal budget, and who knows meetings are an essential process in maintaining and improving our public institutions and services they provide.