The life of a public official depends on the view
Martin stopped me as I was leaving the bank to tell me I had my head up my butt.As discreetly as possible, I checked out my refection in the bank’s window to see if he was correct. Much to my relief, his declaration was simply a figure of speech. What Martin meant was he was in disagreement with my position on a recent town issue. He intended no insult, and I welcomed his candor. Despite my fondness for him as a person, I think he is wrong both about the location of my head and his opinion on the aforementioned issue. In trying to get my point across, I forgot the time. I was hurrying to my next appointment when I saw Tom standing at the bus stop in his ski gear. I knew he was heading to the same base area I would pass to get to my meeting, so I stopped to give him a ride. He thanked me profusely saying the bus was running late, and he had to be at work in a couple of hours and my ride would give him a few extra runs. When we pulled up at the bottom of the chair lifts, I helped him unload his skis. He thanked me again and said, “By the way I really appreciate your getting involved with town government, but in regard to your position on … well I have to tell you, you’ve got your head up …”
You can guess the rest.As some of you may or may not know, I’ve recently been elected to the Breckenridge Town Council.Though I’ve always been interested in politics, until lately I never felt I was intellectually qualified to run. Much to my delight, the last two national elections have suggested to me that perhaps I was. So I ran, was elected and have been serving for nine months. So far, I have heard no talk of impeachment.One of my campaign platforms was “Vote for Jeffrey/Biff, he knows what sucks about himself.” If I knew my weaknesses while running, I’m all that much better acquainted with them now. There is little doubt in my mind that I am the must comedic person serving. Unfortunately, humor goes only so far in terms of managing a municipality. On the plus side, my fellow public servants are amazingly qualified in many of the areas that I am not.I try to listen to their counsel, while at the same time keeping in mind that just because they are smart does not necessarily make them right in every matter.Recently, there has been an issue on which we elected officials were asked to give our opinion of that I was in the vast minority. Actually minority suggests there were others on my side. I was alone.
I won’t go into detail here. That would be unfair to the overwhelming majority on the other side who don’t have their own columns and cannot promote their misguided position. Suffice to say, I knew that many opposed me, but I also felt there were many who did not, and I needed to represent them in the public process.Unfortunately many of those who I thought I was representing have told me I’m an idiot. Therein lies the question: Is the job of an elected official to represent the wishes of the majority? Or is the job of an elected official to represent the wishes of those who put him in office? Or, is the job to do what you think is right? When I was considering throwing my hat into the political ring, my buddy Jim said I’d be a good public servant due to my occupation. I’m comfortable with the fact that some people think I’m a jerk. His contention was that since I am used to people not liking me, I would be less likely to vote a certain way to simply avoid criticism. I’m not sure if Jim was suggesting that I’m honorable or pigheaded.What I do know is that serving on my town council has been the best poor-paying job I’ve ever had.
Dwight Eisenhower said, “Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen.” In just a few short months, I honestly believe that in every vote I have cast, I have either made a difference or a mistake. But in every case, I’ve had an impact.This has been immensely rewarding for me as someone who believes if you’re not part of the solution you are part of the problem. There is a fine line that an elected official most walk between the philosophy of the community, the reality of the economy and personal beliefs. In other words, you must have your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground. Unfortunately, in my case at least Martin and Tom feel my head is located slightly to the south of the clouds.I appreciate their honesty even if I don’t like the view …Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of”Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio and read in several mountain publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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