Politics is Usual?

Politics is Usual?
Posted on 10/01/2018

By Council Member J. Scott Bracken

The election cycle is in full swing as evidenced by the myriad of signs, commercials, mailers, and billboards. Your ballot will be mailed to you in the next week or two. Open it, research the candidates and ballot initiatives, and mark your choices before you return it by mail or at designated sites. Voting is a basic duty of good citizenship and is also our right.

Last month, our Youth City Council had their annual dinner with the Mayor, City Council and staff, providing a chance to informally visit and communicate (see Page 7). One of the questions YCC members asked was “What advice would you give to us about being in politics?”

Council Member Mike Shelton answered that he had always been concerned about being in ‘politics’ because of the (current) negative connotation of the word. Instead, he preferred to be viewed as being in public service. On a local level, this is so true. City services such as police, fire, roads, street lighting, waste collection, electricity, water and storm drains are areas where public service is essential, and politics is best eschewed. On a national level, it seems politics is so entrenched in every facet of governance that real change for good becomes remote. As such, we encouraged the youth to consider service and engagement at a more local level where their impact can and would be felt directly in their communities. This applies to us all. (Of course, good people in service are needed at all levels of government).

The most enjoyable parts of my job as an elected official are in doing public service: studying an issue, collaborating on a good choice of action, and seeing it come to fruition. Sometimes efforts have immediate results and sometimes they take years to realize.

Prior to being elected to the City Council, I had never thought I’d learn so much about storm drains, road maintenance, police work, fire safety, ordinance composition, public communication, public policy, and so many other things. It now permeates all facets of my life. Once on a bus ride while on vacation in Hawaii, my wife noticed that I was studying something and asked what it was. I confessed that I was looking at the curb/gutter and storm drain spacing and how it was different in a wet climate rather than our desert. Our previous Mayor also noted that while in the Middle East, he was glad that we did not have to plow sand from our roads, only snow.

Mayor Mike Peterson has often mentioned that one key to keeping activities such as Butlerville Days fun and enjoyable is to retain the core purpose but to add/change something each year to keep things fresh and dynamic. That concept applies to our city as a whole. Often competing needs and desires must be weighed while supporting essential core services like public safety and infrastructure while at the same time, keeping the city vibrant and alive and a place people want to live. So, we must strive for that delicate balance.

Local government extends to our schools as well. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers in our community helping in our neighborhood schools. The new and refurbished elementary and middle schools are a strong indicator of how redevelopment (change) in a site can lead to an infusion of new life in a community. School board members are up for election this November, as well as one seat on the CH Recreation Service Area Board — another of our great community partners.

Also, up for vote are state legislative seats, County Council representation, and ballot initiatives. All these have varying degrees of direct impact on our daily lives – much more so than Washington. Local races where public service tends to be the candidates’ motivation, rather than politics, are the most critical to our community’s success.

So, do your duty, open your ballot, do some research and exercise your right to vote.