Friday, November 20, 2009
We need skilled individuals who will address the public interest first to run for office. Otherwise, the Piranha among us will devour our community
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Note: It's interesting that the opening of deer hunting season is just a month prior to the official opening of candidates filing for public office at the local and state levels. We're expecting that there will be a large herd of incumbents and challengers vying for our hearts and minds for offices ranging from Hays County Clerk to County Judge to State Representative. This commentary from Mr. O'Dell is timely because it gives us pause to once again spend a little time reflecting on lessons learned from elections past, the candidates and their promises. Sometimes its easy to pick out the best deer in a herd, sometimes not. We imagine it would be a lot more challenging selecting the friendliest little public office hopefuls from a school of piranha. Here's wishing a happy campaign hunting (and fishing) season with all its merry sifting, sorting, darting and dodging.
By Charles O'Dell, Ph.D.
Driving past Austin Memorial Park Cemetery the other day brought to mind a reflection that every one of us is heading in that direction. Such a sobering thought brought into sharp focus the importance of making the most of life’s journey.
While each of us begins as a tabulae rasae (with a blank mind before it receives the impressions gained from experience), we are also hard wired by evolution, just as all other species of Nature are, except that our specie also harbors ego and intellect.
We are not the swiftest, strongest, or oldest specie – but evolved with unique features that give extraordinary capabilities to the most average of us. How we use those capabilities define our life’s journey.
All men and women are created equal in the eyes of our Constitution, but we are not all equal in life.
Each of us has two lives – a life within and an external life, or the way we behave. Our external life manifests our inner life, and that’s why the impressions gained from our experience – the stuff that forges our values –are so important in making the most of life’s journey.
Life can be likened to a card game. DNA deals us the hand to play, but our values determine how we play that hand. Our values are not what we say they are, but are revealed in the external life we choose to live.
What better example of this than elections. More often than not, candidates claim to have values that belie their behavior. They claim to be honest, to have integrity, to be qualified for the position they seek and deserving of public trust. They promise to make us proud.
Few however deliver, because what they want more than serving in public office is the authority and control that makes them feel important in their eyes and in the eyes of their supporters. They squander public money, rewarding their special interest supporters; they use money taken from thousands who struggle day to day, and build grand edifices for themselves, leaving behind long-term debt for others to repay; they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on State and U.S. highways while our county roads continue to deteriorate; and they engage in destructive political games to raise themselves up by pushing their political opponents down.
Which Hays County elected officials do you believe exercise the courage and skill to serve the public interest first and their self-interests last? There are Piranha among us who feed on the citizens of Hays County.
Dry wells, home foreclosures, lost jobs, closed family businesses; helter-skelter growth, government waste, special interests, favoritism, and selected enforcement of our laws are not conditions of a sustainable community or economy. These problems can be solved.
Our neighbors’ problems are our problems – unless we choose not to care. We need skilled individuals who will address the public interest first to run for office. Otherwise, the Piranha among us will devour our community.
As co-founder of Hays Community Action Network (HaysCAN) in 2003, Mr. O’Dell strives to carry out the mission of ensuring open, accessible and accountable government. He is a long time and close observer of the workings of the Hays County Commissioners Court. He earned a degree in Agricultural Education and a Masters in Ag Economics at Texas Tech, and, later, a Ph.D. at The University of Maryland while employed as a Research Economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. Texas born and raised on a family farm, O’Dell is a Hays County Master Naturalist and board president of the Ethical Society of Austin.
Posted by RoundUp Editor at 5:42 AM