Opinion: Elect Our Officials Based on Merits of Their Qualifications, Not For Personal Reasons

By Connie Conley and Mr. Optimist | January 12, 2014 | It is already gearing up! Elk Grove year 14 and the election season is upon u...

By Connie Conley and Mr. Optimist | January 12, 2014 |

It is already gearing up! Elk Grove year 14 and the election season is upon us.  

The Elk Grove City Council District 4 Seat has taken a front seat on the minds of those concerned about the direction of the city council. As we all should be.

As one of those people, we know we are not alone in that other cities face the same dilemmas we do. I ran across a letter to the editor that easily could have been written by any of us who pen our opinions from time to time. 

How many of us backed a friend for city council, not really knowing for sure if he/she was actually qualified to be on the city council? Likewise, how many of us watched an appointed official in action on the dais, not knowing them personally, but soon knew they were not only qualified but smart enough to handle the job and then approached him/her to run for city council?  I am the first to admit I have done both.  So which was the smarter move here?

This opinion letter addresses exactly where we might have gone wrong here in Elk Grove. I think it merits a reprinting, as it was marked for sharing, for Elk Grove voters as we seriously think about who should be elected in 2014 to the Elk Grove City Council.

Letter to the Editor - Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at 6:34 PM on St. Lucia News Online

How many of us know someone who is or have been an elected official who changed almost instantly after taking office? Please, don’t all raise our hands at the same time!

Don’t you ever wonder if that is the same person you knew before they got elected? What happened to that sweet, honest, patriotic, selfless person who had the interest of the people at heart? The one who, during that private conversation, was entering politics to change the way “these politicians” change as soon as they take office? The one who knew all what was wrong with Lucian politics and was going to “change” it? The one who would never be like “Those People” if they got elected?

Well he/she is right in front of you. It was all of us who chose to be oblivious to the reality of whom that person truly was when we voted for them.

Look around you, I am sure you can name some elected officials, both past and present, who are unfit or grossly unqualified to serve in the capacity where they are appointed. Majority of them have mediocre leadership skills at best, if they possess any at all.

We elect people because they are popular, because they are our friend, because they were good in sports, because they were involved in the community in some capacity, because they went to university, because they are a lawyer, or an array of other reasons that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job they are seeking.

What we do not elect people for is the merits of their ability to lead people. We expect people to automatically become leaders by virtue of being elected into public office. Look around you, how many of the political parties invest any resources on developing their members’ leadership abilities. Do you see any press releases that say that the ministers will be out of office or state attending leadership seminars of classes?

We live in a society where we expect people to magically become good leaders because they can speak over a microphone (I take that back, because some of them cannot even do that, other people do that on their behalf) or sell us empty promises, or went to university, or was popular, or some other ridiculous reason.

What I see lacking are: people being elected based on their leadership qualities, decision-making attributes, experience, maturity, ability to work under pressure, accountability managerial skills, success record, and other attributes that actually make them assets to the country instead of liabilities. Sounds familiar? Those are some of the qualifications that are necessary to run a successful operation, whether it’s a fortune 500 company or a family business.

If you were hiring someone to run a successful business, they would be expected to have certain qualifications. During elections, you are hiring people to run the most complex organization in existence, which is your government.

Ask yourself this: would you hire your friend, a popular person, a good talker, or a mere college graduate if you did not believe that they were adequately qualified to do your job?

In other words, we get what we vote for. How can someone who possesses no leadership skills lead anyone? How can someone who cannot even effectively hold a steady job or run a business, create any jobs?  How can someone who can’t lead a family lead an entire country?  I will not go into names, but there have been a fair share of elected official who I have listened to and wonder how they ever got nominated, much less elected, for a government office.  It is really disturbing how surprised people are to find out that the incompetent people they elected are incompetent or incapable of the job at hand.

When convenient, we try to convince ourselves that black is really dark blue.  To paraphrase a famous quote and put it in local perspective, “You cannot plant a mango tree and expect it to bear bananas”; I know they are both fruits but each has its own qualities.

If we truly want to see progress in our fair Helen, we need to make more informed choices when it comes to electing leaders. We need to adopt a change and start taking our roles and responsibilities for what they are worth.

We the electorate has the power to demand quality leadership in the people we elect. Stop nominating and electing people for personal reasons and start electing our officials based on the merits of their qualifications.

We must demand better options. Let the parties know how you feel. If you feel that someone is not qualified for holding public office because they lack leadership and other qualities pertinent to the job at hand, speak up and demand better choices. It’s not personal; it’s just what we need to move our country forward.

Likewise, if someone is qualified and has proven that they are a leader, have a successful business track record, is responsible fiscally and professionally, can successfully manage assets, can effectively create jobs and demonstrate the ability to take the country forward, we should be able to look beyond party lines and personal agendas, and support that individual.

Now is not the time to play “politricks” but a time for informed, responsible decision-making. Just call a spade a spade. Start the conversation today. Do not delay until it’s too late and we are stuck with dumb and dumber.


Mr. Optimist

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Anonymous said...

So small town politics looks the same in St Lucia as it does in Elk Grove. We too have elected council members because they can put on a good BBQ together; promise change; were friends at one time; or because they had bigger, flashier campaign signs. We need to start holding all candidates to a higher standard. The people of this town need to really think about our future and constructively look at our past. Are you happy with the housing/job balance? How about traffic, happy with how that has turned out? How about housing? Has you house recovered yet from the recession..and yes, the entire country experienced that recession, but places like Davis fair so much better than we did due to their housing plan. What about favoritism being shown to developers...subsidies, rezones, ordinances changes for the sake of political contributions by these developers. How happy are you with current day Elk Grove? It's a tough question.

The Mad Hatter said...

I don't disagree with the basic premise here, but let's not forget the other corrupting factor in politics - money!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mad Hatter is correct. Of course money does corrupt. Elected leaders who aren't qualified seem to over compensate, have a quest for power over others, feed off the fame that comes with the headlines, the head tables and the limo rides. They see themselves as heroes and often appear self-centered and egotistical; they are the ones who easily give in to the trappings money and power. They are the ones who continue to spew their honesty and integrity while still looking in the mirror because they rationalize to themselves that their deviations are acceptable to achieve a greater good.

We have seen examples of this behavior recently and these are the worst kind of leaders we can elect.

Anonymous said...

I see the merits of the article and much of it is true but what are you going to do when you only have 1 or 2 choices ala Ly and Chaires who are phonies?

People criticize a lot in these forums about what council members aren't doing right and what the ideal candidate is but I don't see too many people stepping up to lead.

Put your name on the ballot and show us how it's done, if you don't want to and don't like the current options then change the stakes and start recruiting.

Doc Holiday said...

To anonymous above, a recent example was Lynn Wheat, who campaigned for Mayor during last election. She didn't get far because her "warchest" couldn't compete with the big guns. It was like showing up to a gunfight with a slingshot. The game is rigged and outsiders are kept out because of money and party affiliation.

Anonymous said...

Above poster is absolutely correct. Lynn Wheat is exactly what this town needs. Her grasp of the planning process; her understanding of the general plan is amazing...but the developers hate her..thus no financial support means no votes. Many citizens in this town have stepped in apathy when it comes to voting. They vote for the best signs; the prettiest face; the cute slogan. They rarely vote for the person with ideas or vision. Look at how many people stepped up to take over the Dist 4 seat when Davis screwed us all on the special election...Seven people took the time and effort to make the leap into the political world...all to be turned down by the council for an ex-school chief who has yet to wake up and make any worthwhile contribution and who DID not want the job nor did he apply for the job. So, you cannot say we aren’t trying to get new blood on this council, but the ticket in the front door is not readily available to the average, common citizen whose desire it is to make a change. It is nearly impossible. Just ask Lynn, Jeff Owen, Jerry Braxmeyer, Ed Busetel; Oscar Ocon, and the list goes on and on.

Anonymous said...

Money talks in Elk Grove.

Golden Rule - S/he who has the money makes the rule.

The way things are going, Elk Grove will look like a huge spawling mess like Las Vegas.

Elk Grove is nothing more than a podunk city that is headed down the drain as older neighborhoods become junky.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't cost money to walk a neighborhood for someone, or use word of mouth or social media to promote your candidate.

Don't give up before you start because of preconceived notions. Look what GRASP did with the SOI.

Lynne should run again and encourage others like the previous 7.

If I kept reading that it requires huge sums of money from developers to win then I wouldn't want to ever even try.

Anonymous said...

The city is a joke and is headed straight into the dumper the way things are going.

We need to clean house and get a completely new slate.

Fast food joints, strip centers, lack of culture and fine dining, bland subdivisions, overcrowded schools, thousands of housing project units.

People in Sacramento look down on Elk Grove for good reason.

Anonymous said...

Anon above @ 11:34

....well stated. Couldn't agree more.

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