As spring dawns so does another political season. The hunt is underway to select those members of the community thought best qualified to lead our school boards and city councils and mayoral seats.
The question is what really qualifies a person to hold these positions of governance and trust? What criteria or standards should be used to determine a candidate's suitability for office?
Several national organizations undertook studies to offer some guidance on the subject. They sought the guidance of policy and government management experts to gain more perspectives on the best qualities to identify with prospective officeholders.
Foremost, candidates should be anchors within their towns. There should be a long connection with various civic and community based organizations where leadership was nurtured and reflected. Their experience should be fairly broad based and have a good grasp of the community and its diversified people and needs. They should be well known for their previous and current involvement with the lives of the people they commit to serve.
Candidates should not be singular issue oriented. They must understand that a multiplicity of factors enter into policies and that any focus on only select issues of personal choice can be destructive to progress for the entire community. There must be a cross section of ideas and input to achieve efficient and responsible decision-making. They must appreciate the complexity of financial, legal and operational matters that come into play daily.
Candidates must be flexible in their outlook and geared towards a willingness to listen to all viewpoints. Criticism must be accepted with respect towards the critics. Those who represent their constituents must be pledged to understand and follow the big picture surrounding problems and issues.
Serving the public interest means relating and being empathetic to all aspects of public activity and relationships.
Officeholders become stewards of the public's assets and trust. They must be reliable and hard working public servants of strong character who have already demonstrated such dedication within other phases of community life over an extended period of time.
Being a candidate is a significant opportunity and challenge. But the greater challenge and hope for successful leadership of our cities snd schools comes from a determination to choose our leaders wisely.