Letter: What qualifies someone for local office?
What qualifies someone for (or, for that matter, disqualifies someone from) local office? Many discussions concerning our representatives end up trying to figure out what qualified them in the first place. Citizenship, residency, and age of course they all have, but what unique talents do they or should they possess? I can find only two must haves, the rest are good-if-you-hav’em items, in my mind.
Economic expertise or business experience might be on everyone’s mind these days, but are they requisite? No, they are GTH (good-to-hav’em), but both operate on principles many perceive as cut in stone and, at especially the local level, must be moderated against what the public wants and the purse can bear.
A good business may lay off or relocate to increase profit (primary goal of business), but a locality can’t reduce or relocate those it serves. An economist might require draconian cuts in wages or services provided, but a locality must walk a finer line.
How about history? Old families built the county and people know them. A good name and back story have always helped in politics, but it runs the risk of stagnation or ethical issues—many wish for the good old days, hence the "born here/come here" comments that still pop up from time to time. For a county to survive it must grow. Growth brings new friends and ideas—both GTH.
But what are the must haves? A need to serve and the ability to deal with what they don’t know.
A need to serve does not require powerful friends or the need to have them. Leaders serve all of us, not a party or themselves: something sorely missing in America today. A foolish person knows all … no one can. A wise leader accepts this and surrounds themselves with good council at what they are lacking in, making them a leader and not a follower voting for what they are told. This too is sorely missing.
In the end, anyone is qualified, but are they GTH or must have?