Some people are cut out to be politicians and others aren’t, and I don’t mind admitting that I am firmly entrenched in the “not” category.
Certain folks can be born leaders, while others claim to have “a calling” to serve in elected offices and still others are simply well-versed in kissing hands and shaking babies. Being a so-called people person with a charismatic personality that elicits feel-good sensations in all those he or she meets is also a trait that can carry a politician far.
Which is exactly why I’d stink as one, since I tend to be anti-all that. No matter what office I was elected to — be it federal, state or local — I would make more people mad than Donald J. Trump (which overall has been a good thing in his case in terms of draining the proverbial swamp in Washington).
As City Commissioner Joyce, Congressman Joyce or Starfleet Commander Joyce, whatever, I would tell people the way things were — warts and all — and not what they necessarily wanted to hear about our many problems, and my solutions for them. I wouldn’t care one iota if they liked this or not, or if they liked me for that matter.
I am sure that my turbulent time in office likely would end prematurely with a scenario about like this:
Not to make light of President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination in Dallas, but someone probably would tell me, “Commissioner/Congressman/Starfleet Commander Joyce, we would like to invite you to get in the back of your limousine with its top down and take a nice ride through town in a parade past the Mount Airy School Book Depository. Oh, and be sure to sit up real high when you reach the Grassy Knoll so your many fans can see you.”
However, you have to admit that the lack of this brutal, tough-love honesty which I would exhibit during my short time in office is one of the reasons why politicians have such a bad reputation nowadays. Too many of them come off as phony or insincere and always seem to make a lot of promises on the campaign trail which they don’t deliver once in office.
Then there are those stories of people of modest financial means entering Congress or some other legislative body and then becoming multi-millionaires after only a few years.
All that being said, I do admire those who desire to be in leadership positions for all the right reasons, which include a genuine desire for public service.
I must say that office-seekers on the local level generally possess that and other worthy qualities, much more so than state or federal lawmakers. These are folks running among their peers in the community, who if elected undoubtedly will hear from their constituents in the grocery store or get calls from them if there’s a problem with some city or county service.
All those who are involved in the 2017 municipal election in Mount Airy appear to fit that profile, including mayoral candidates David Rowe and Ivy Sheppard; South Ward commissioner candidates Steve Yokeley and Todd Harris; and unopposed North Ward Commissioner Jon Cawley.
Each of them has demonstrated a willingness to serve the community and run their campaigns in a dignified way, including thoroughly researching city issues. Yes, they all have strong and widely varying opinions on some matters and make those perfectly clear, but have been respectful of their opponents in the process.
This was evident during a candidate forum at the Earle Theatre on Oct. 24, sponsored by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, and in their other conduct throughout the campaign season.
As readers will recall, the last municipal election here in 2015 was exactly the opposite of what’s occurring now — extremely mean-spirited in some respects.
The candidates who are on the ballot now collectively have exhibited a deep concern for their community and spent much time, effort and money toward getting out their messages. They‘ve literally put themselves on the line for their fellow citizens to approve, or not, and must sit back and wait for the outcome on Tuesday night.
I would imagine there is a certain agony involved with that waiting game (which is another reason why I will never, ever seek elected office). Because Losing Candidate Joyce not only would tell everyone that they didn’t have him to kick around anymore, as Richard Nixon did, but deliver a few choice #$@&%*! (curse words) to boot.
Yet come Wednesday morning, all those involved in this year’s city election will be winners in my book. If nothing else, they have given local voters a choice and therefore bolstered the civic health of our community right before flu season.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.