|Voting gets ugly.
One of the ousted Queen Anne’s commissioners wrote off the extraordinary results of the county primaries as the product of a one-issue campaign. “Voters didn't want to hear anything else,” he said.
Well that certainly explains the problem. It was the voters! We were too preoccupied with that silly growth issue to hear about the nature trail and that other thing, whatever it was?
Well, sorry man, but you see we have this idea about the way things should work, and maybe we got too carried away with it.
It’s called representative government.
We (the voters) elect you (the commissioners) to represent us in county government.
To represent us you need to know how we feel about things. This is called listening. Also we need to know what’s going on there in Centreville, and how you feel about those things. This is called talking. It works best when it’s done together in the same room in what is sometimes called a public forum. Do this and the voters will feel they’ve been listened to, and even if they don’t agree with you, they aren’t going to get into one of those ugly “ousting” moods when they get to the polls. In fact you may even keep their vote because they’ll feel that they’ve been treated honestly and above-board, and they respect that.
Sadly, it didn’t happen that way.
About 2 1/2 years ago the natives began to get restless and vocal about the quantity and size of the developments that were being pushed out of the planning department at an alarming rate, most targeted for Kent Island.
It is about this time that growth achieved full status as an issue with a capital “G”.
That’s also about that time that you’d expect the representative government thing to kick in.
But, inexplicably, the opposite happened.
Rather than opening their minds to the people they swore to represent, the commissioners chose to take an adversarial position on growth.
Rather than listen to the people and try to understand their position, and make their own positions known, they listened to their planning department, developers and the business community, while conspicuously avoiding any public dialogue or debate on the subject.
They sought out friendly pulpits to characterize the opposition as misguided and uninformed.
And they used a county publicist, paid for with our tax dollars, to issue county press releases so transparently politically motivated that they would have been laughable, had they not represented a flagrant violation of the public trust.
And you’ve seen the result.
What can future elected official learn from this?
You don’t have to agree with voters to earn their respect, but you do have to demonstrate your respect for them by listening to what they have to say, and engaging them in honest, open dialogue.
And, oh yes, one more thing.
If you ever decide to turn your back on the people, you might just as well keep on walking.
© 2000 - 2002 Bill
Evans. Used By Permission. All Rights Reserved.
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