By Charles Mann, Upstate Action Alliance
Shared in Spartanburg Herald Journal - 2021-04-11
Now is the time to start evaluating Spartanburg's community servants, thinking about elections
This year you will be asked to vote in local municipal elections for Mayor, City Council, School Board and Water Commissioner. Now is the time to start evaluating our potential community servants!!! In all, local elections will occur in 13 Municipalities in the county, including the City of Spartanburg.
The Upstate Action Alliance, a non-profit voter education, voter registration and voter turnout organization, is asking every registered voter and concerned citizen to participate in primaries, runoffs, and general elections. While the General Election is November 2, 2021, a lot will be happening on the candidate front between now and then.
Voters in each of the 13 municipalities will have the opportunity to select who serves their community for the next electoral term. These are the people who will decide how to allocate your local tax dollars, which industries get tax incentives, how much money gets spent on road repair and construction, how county health dollars are spent, what development gets approved for housing, how dollars are spent for local police, and so many other items that touch your lives each and every day.
The Upstate Action Alliance (UAA) believes we, as voters, should select the best persons possible to serve our communities. We believe you should consider their skills, past community involvement, and, of course, their character.
The UAA wants each of us to be proactive in deciding who should serve our community. It is time for us to not accept empty promises, but to tell those who want to serve, what we WANT. So, after researching what other communities have done to select their community servants, we would like to propose candidates possess the following:
It seems simple, but it is key to the character of any public office holder. And it should be evident in their actions and their intellectual approach to the issues in the community.
A public officer holder is a REPRESENTATIVE OF ALL THE PEOPLE, not just a champion of special interest groups. A good candidate is one that has and displays a balanced view of our community. For example, a good candidate/servant understands the value of the new housing development, but requires builders provide sufficient affordable housing in their developments. Or someone may support vital street infrastructure while understanding the need for alternative transportation.
Committed to the Job
Doing the job RIGHT requires a community servant to dedicate time and energy. This includes, first, being responsive to their constituents, not just to some, but to all. Commitment also includes attending meetings, reading volumes of materials, and speaking up on community issues when they arise.
A good community servant should serve the public interest, plain and simple. If the person is agenda driven, power-hungry, or captive to special interests, this person may NOT perform their duties with integrity for the overall community now and in the future.
Does this person have the experience in their work or civic life that lends itself to the position? Does the person have the knowledge and the intellectual curiosity to be an effective community servant? Is this person really ready and prepared to take on the important and significant issues facing our community?
Above all, this community servant must have the personal traits and qualifications to deserve the support and vote of the electing public. Can this person WIN an election? Can this person raise the necessary funds to finance a campaign?
A good community servant is one who can communicate ideas and concepts clearly and concisely to their constituents, other colleagues, and the community-at-large. These skills must be both written and oral. Additionally, Covid has taught us that community servants must be technologically savvy. Does this person understand the need and requirement to function in a technologically changed environment? In today’s world, community servants must be able to operate beyond basic email.
Our community servants should also be AGILE LEARNERS, FLEXIBLE, and GREAT LISTENERS.
As voters, if potential candidates cannot meet the above requirements, should they deserve your support…your contribution…your VOTE?
Our community, like others, is facing tough issues every day. We deserve to have community servants who are up to the task to create a better community for all of us and for our children’s children.
Founding Member, Upstate Action Alliance
The LWVS Blog is authored by members of the League of Women Voters of Spartanburg County with a central editor.