While the presidential election, and a few other races around the nation, were too close to call as The Mount Airy News went to press Tuesday night, locally it is safe to say the elections are over. Winners have declared victory, those losing have by-and-large conceded defeat, and this is, as always, a time for a bit of healing after some tough campaigns.
Locally, and that includes races for representation at the state level in Raleigh and at the national level on Congress, we have a number of people who ran campaigns, only to find themselves on the losing end of the vote totals.
For those folks, we ask that you remember why you put your name on the ballot in the beginning. Hopefully it was to serve others in your community, to exhibit some leadership in building a better community, and to work to set up others — individuals and businesses — to have the opportunity for success.
The chance to do that still exists. Volunteer for boards and commissions that advise governmental bodies; lend your expertise and service to non-profits working to help those in need; use your knowledge and energy to help keep elected officials on the straight-and-narrow and call them on it, publicly, if they do not.
For those of you who won various offices, it seems almost an understatement to say these are challenging times. The chance for each of you to make a difference is greater than, perhaps, at any other time in memory. But to do that, to offer true leadership and service, to work for those who elected you to office, we ask you take a few requests to heart.
• Remember, you were not elected to serve a political party, or a group of people. You were elected to serve all the people of your district, county, or jurisdiction.
• Always serve in public. Keep your dealings open to not just the media, but to all those who you were elected to serve. Government done behind closed doors, or by telephone or private meetings, is often not only illegal, but simply poor leadership. You weren’t hired to do a job, you were elected to represent people, and it is their interest you are dealing with. They, the members of the public, have a right to know virtually everything you do when it comes to acting on their behalf, spending their money, or in any way using your authority as a government official.
• Don’t be swayed from this commitment by others who do wish to keep business from the public. If you’re the only one who stands as one who believes government should be kept in the light, others will come to your defense.
• Always be honest in your dealings with the public. This should go without saying, but so often this seems to be forgotten by those elected to office. You will make decisions that are unpopular. You will make mistakes. Owning up to those, saying “I did what I thought was best” or “I made a mistake,” will get you much more respect, and support, than hiding from your actions or throwing others under the bus when you’ve made an error.
• And if you forget all else, remember the one word everyone uses when discussing public office — service. If you remember your job is to serve, and you always do your best in this regard, few with have serious issues with you or your actions.