Thursday, October 7, 2021

Selecting Candidates for Local Office 2021


This November, residents of Highland will have the opportunity to determine who will fill two city council seats. Candidates for these offices are asking for the privilege to spend five to twenty or more hours a week, for the next four years. They will make decisions that affect us today and years into the future. Over the term of their office they will be responsible for ~$90M of city expenses and will cast votes that affect zoning, roads, public safety, sewer, water, etc. In short, their actions affect us on a daily basis.

Let me offer a few thoughts on identifying candidates who will serve our community well:

  • They need to be someone whose judgement you can trust. Can they set aside self-interest when they vote? A council member will cast over 500 votes during a four-year term.

  • Elected officials make decisions on issues in areas where they are not experts. Look for someone who likes to learn, will listen to multiple points of view, and can update their opinion as they learn more about an issue.

  • Council members often don’t agree with each other, but need to work together. Can a candidate disagree without being disagreeable? Are they able to effectively debate issues? Can they compromise when that is needed – there are limited questions with clear-cut answers.

  • Residents will have strong opinions on issues. They are occasionally unkind to those who don’t agree. Showing civility in the face of incivility tends to de-escalate issues and helps take emotion out of decisions. Look for those who are gracious when others are not.

  • Doing the right thing in the wrong way can generate a lot of negativity and is often worse than doing nothing. The “wrong way” usually means making big decisions in a way that is perceived to be non-transparent.

  • Candidates that are patient and persistent will be able to move the ball forward on big issues.

Is there a perfect candidate? No. Are there candidates who are perfectly capable of doing an excellent job? Absolutely!

The candidates we elect will represent us across a broad spectrum of issues, not just one or two, for the next four years. Please take the time to get to know those who are running and support those you believe will be effective public servants for all of Highland over the next four years.

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