You know, over the years I’ve written well over 1,800 of these Don’t Rush Me columns. I’ve told jokes, I have stood on my soapbox and opined. I’ve tried to stir your emotions, to bend you to my will whether I wanted to make you cry, laugh or get mad at something. The one thing I don’t believe I’ve done is give a shout out to all those who run for local office.
You know who I’m talking about — the men and women you don’t know about unless you get upset at something the local village council, township board, school board or library board has done or planning to do. Seems most folks these days spend a lot of their life’s energy being upset over national politics and politicians (which they very well should) but know little of the folks who run things locally.
I’d wager if you were to do a “man on the street” poll and ask average Joes and Joettes, “Who is your school board president?” Or if you asked them to name their township board, you’d just get blank stares and nervous smiles. And, that’s kind of a shame.
In all our local communities there are probably about 100 people (in each) who put themselves up to serve. In each of these communities, it’s usually the same 100 people who run for local office time and time again. Sometimes they run for one office, serve for a number of years, then get on another board. The point is, they are always involved. If your community has a population of let’s say, 20,000 that means about a half percent of the population is involved. (Folks I ain’t a mathmagician, but if you divide 20,000 into 100, you will get .005. Move the decimal over two to the right and that’s your percentage. Okay, enough math, it’s starting to make me feel ookie.)
For most part the folks who run are not professional politicians and they have no aspirations to run for higher office. They have homes, families and jobs. In other words, they have a life outside whatever board they serve. Serving on local boards isn’t a glamorous gig, many times just the opposite. Think about it, when you serve on a board you take an oath of office to that board. If you’re married, you’ve already taken an oath of fidelity to your loved one. If you have a job, you gotta do your best there, too. So, those who serve on a board basically have three or four “masters” to serve. They must be true to their own self, their loved ones, their community and the board they serve on. I reckon that can really cause some internal stress when one or more of these things don’t line up.
I think most folks who serve on local boards are just common folks who feel a duty to serve their community. Most folks just go to work, come home, pay their bills and taxes and live their lives never really paying attention to how things in their hometowns are run . . .
. . . until something rears its ugly head and that’s when the Monday morning quarterbacks come out with their figurative pitchforks and torches.
“Burn it down,” they shout on their social media pages. “Throw the bums out!”
“You shoulda’ done this.”
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
“Why don’t you hear me . . . don’t you know I’m yelling at you?!”
I’d also wager if many of these same folks were involved prior to any board “mis-step” they might feel differently. Don’t get me wrong, it is all of our duties to hold elected and appointed people’s feet to the fire, to keep them on their toes. I personally have criticized public officials and even called for their outster – but that is very rare. Maybe two times in over 37 years has the ink-stained wretch you know and love gone so far. I also know, I’ve never had the guts to serve on a board. Cowardly-like, I just sit back and watch – never really getting involved. (That’s the easy and safe way. I go to work, go home, pay my bills and taxes – oh my gosh, I am who I write about!)
Nobody is perfect. I believe most people try to do what they believe is the best and since those on our local boards are not aliens from outer space dressed in human suits, but actual humans like us, they too make the best decisions they can based on the information they are given (sometimes information we may not be privy to). So, if I were to get off my soap box again I would do so with this parting shot: Instead of folks only getting “involved” when they get upset at a local board, get involved to help make your community better. Don’t just wait for the “other guy” to make a decision you may not like. Get involved beforehand and help local boards make better decisions.
And, to the folks who serve on local boards, while I may or may not agree with your actions all or none of the time, I tip my hat to you for putting your necks on the proverbial chopping blocks and stepping up to serve.
Comments for he of many opinions can be emailed to DontRushDon@gmail.com