Congratulations to Tuesday’s election winners! I wish you all the best, and I have several requests for you to consider.
Since I’m writing and submitting this column before Nov. 8, I don’t know who the winners are. But whoever they are, I hope they think about several requests I have.
Please note I said “requests,” not advice. Even though I’ve lived more than three-quarters of a century, I’m not much into giving advice but I’m not shy about making requests.
I write this to election winners everywhere in the region, state and country, but especially to those serving the Westside region, especially those who have won mayoral, city council and school board positions. My requests, moreover, also apply to those continuing in their elected positions.
I believe that the best hope for politics is with local politics. City council and school board candidates usually don’t affiliate with the Republican or Democratic parties, so they don’t have to toe their party’s line. Local officials also know their constituents the best, since they represent a much smaller group of people than those who represent state or national areas.
Persons who serve in local offices seem to better appreciate their position as an opportunity to serve their constituents, rather than seeing it as a chance to gain power or money. There isn’t much glory in being a school board or council member.
Local public servants can also model good political behavior to state and national politicians. Americans are tired of hearing legislators personally attack their opponents and constantly use derogatory language, rather than explaining their positions and criticizing their opponents’ policies, not personalities.
Local elected officials can also model the virtue of listening to their constituents. Council and board members can keep their virtual doors open to listen attentively to their constituents’ concerns and suggestions.
I also ask local officials to work for the common good and seek to be fair to all. These are principles I’ve come to appreciate more each year as a member of Rotary, an organization which presents those principles as guidelines in its “Four-way Test.”
It is a heavy responsibility to think of ALL the persons in a city or school district and make decisions that are in the best interests for all concerned and not just for donors and buddies.
Finally, when all arguments have been made and listened to, I hope all elected officials vote their consciences. Living in a republic, we count on people we elect to do what’s right and trust their judgment to make the best decisions.
Voting your conscience doesn’t necessarily mean voting to be liked, but rather making decisions that you can live with when you go to sleep at night. That is another heavy but necessary responsibility.
This approach is often referred to as “doing the right thing,” but I prefer referring to a person’s conscience, a word we don’t often hear these days. Anyone with an appreciation of the spiritual dimension of life recognizes that each of us has a conscience which needs to be cultivated and followed.
Elected officials need to understand the laws and regulations which form the foundation for making their decisions and then cast a vote in accordance with their conscience.
As I reflect on my requests, I realize I’m asking a lot of locally elected officials. But I have high expectations of my neighbors, which is what council and school board members are. In setting high expectations and standards, I show my respect for, and trust in, locally elected officials, that they will live up to those expectations
As a postscript, let me add this: I am so glad election day is over, because I’m tired of seeing so many political ads on television, getting so many political ads in the mail and getting so many emails and texts telling me how to vote.
I used to look forward to election day, the day when we exercise a right that every member of the military fought for, a right that ensures our country is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Nowadays, however, I look forward more to the day after the elections, when all those political ads stop. That’s a shame.
Speaking of the military, I want to congratulate the Los Banos Veterans, the organization that includes both the local Veterans of Foreign War and members of the American Legion, for a superb parade last Saturday.
As a member of the Los Banos American Legion post, I am acutely aware of how much work goes into preparing for and organizing the parade and then making sure it goes smoothly.
Special recognition goes to Patricia McCoy, the local veteran who is the parade chairperson and who has put the most time into making sure Los Banos (and surrounding cities) has a parade to be proud of, with many participants from different backgrounds.
The weather was perfect for a parade, the parade proceeded efficiently, and it was completed in an hour. The many spectators who lined the streets to cheer the parade appreciated the event, which made each of them even prouder to be an American.