Mad rush to serve?
In the space of one month I have seen two stories in which, first, 15 residents of Avon Lake, and then 16 residents of Rocky River have sought to fill council vacancies. I want to know why I should not be surprised.
In the space of one month I have seen two stories in which, first, 15 residents of Avon Lake, and then 16 residents of Rocky River have sought to fill council vacancies in their respective cities. I want to know why I should not be surprised and if there is something more at work that can be built upon.
Last fall the Westlake City Schools had seven candidates for three openings, as did the Avon Lake City Schools, and I thought that was something. I don't want to own up to my pessimism about public interest in community service, but generally speaking sparse attendance at these meetings would belie what seems to be a high level of interest in serving on these boards.
I am a sucker for these kinds of questions, Peter! I think there are a bunch of reasons contributing to the numbers, even in a world where we are constantly maligning the public servants - and demanding (appropriately in many cases) more and more from them, on so many levels.
So my armchair analysis is that, for example, the one guy who said that he had applied a couple of times, but he's never run? Hmm - I'm not loving that because to me it says he would love to be in a position like an elected, but he didn't want to run? On the other hand, running for office is HARD, no matter what anyone else says. And on the third hand, if you REALLY want to be in public service, then the running versus the appointing should not be an issue.
But that's me.
As for the numbers running for office, I wish we saw that kind of competition all around. Consider some of the County Council competitions this time around - nothing, although to be fair, they've only been in a year, right? So - I give them a pass for now.
And yet the diversity is very meh, particularly on the gender front (though admittedly that's what I attend to the most though I try to keep an eye out).
With the advent of social media and electronic communications, it's easier and easier at the local level, if you really know your demographics, for anyone to run for office and succeed. One of my favorite examples is the 20 year old Dartmouth student who became her county's treasurer, defeating a 68 year old incumbent. She spent $50 on Facebook ads and that was IT!
I'm always encouraging my constituents who are unhappy with decision-making at the elected level to run for office. I know that all of the winners this year in Pepper Pike heard that from me a minimum of one time and more likely several times, in writing and in person. I'm currently encouraging people to apply for the school board seat that just became open.
Leader succession, diversity of opinion and experience and perspective - these are all things that require competition between residents for the decision-making positions in their community. I thank everyone who runs - they help us draw distinctions even just for ourselves in terms of what we want, and what we don't want!
Thanks for posting this conversation, I love this topic.