Well so do/did I. My Great Aunt was the first woman Mayor of Washington; a fact that I always say with great pride. As a child learning this gave me a desire to also be a “powerful woman” in this community. For the past three years, I have worked in the public sector; and in those three years I have learned much about what it means to be an elected official, and I think I may have changed my mind.
My wavering mind is not because I don’t have the passion in my heart; it is the two questions I replay over and over again in my head:
“Do I have thick enough skin?”
“Can I do this to my family?”
Let me explain. Look past the election, where thick skin is a given, look to being in the position. There is a job that must be done after the race is won. For those of you that don’t know or are not around Elected Officials the way I am, the level of scrutiny is high and time away from your family is even higher. I know my bosses hardly get a “night off.” They work weekends and travel all over this County and State to be able to get the job done. These people make decisions that touch many people’s lives, and often they are misrepresented in the media and scrutinized by all. Their names are drug through the proverbial mud. And yet, every day they get up and do it all over again. Why? Because their desire and want to make our community great and create change is greater than the burden they endure every day.
Elected officials have been given a great responsibility in our community and it’s not a golden ticket. It is hard work, taking hits from every angle, deciding where your moral line is and what you will sacrifice to stay on the right side of that line.
I was taught as a child that volunteering on a board, or running for public office in any capacity is our civic duty and the greatest way to give back and create change. There are various different elected positions you could run for, from school board member to Township Supervisor to Commissioner or Mayor. All of these positions require a leader that will stand up for people and be their champion. This level of leader needs to have enough confidence in their abilities that the outside talk doesn’t make them second guess their decisions or break down their psyche.
To be an effective leader in the public eye you have to be willing and understand that you’re going to make decisions multiple times in a day that are going to have huge impacts. And those decisions are going to make people either extremely pleased or extremely upset. You’re constantly going to have your morals and values questioned, and your actions will set the tone and pace in your community.
So, when I hear people say, it’s a piece of cake or they are being harsh and judgmental about a decision that was made or how money was spent; I want to ask them if they think it’s so easy why didn’t they run? But we all know the answer to that; it is easier to judge someone from the sidelines and Monday morning quarterback them, than to take the heat ourselves. Playing the game is hard, but if you have the will and truly want to LEAD, you will find that even the small wins are worth it.
Post Courtesy of: Kathleen Bali, Director of Human Resources, Washington County