Op-Ed: Voting for Your Neighbors
The following op-ed is written by Erlanger Mayor Jessica Fette.
As election day grows closer, it is important that we closely examine the candidates that are running for office. Understanding the difference between a politician and a public servant has a tremendous impact on the future of your city, county, state, and country. The definition versus the connotation of the word politician has grown disparate throughout the course of modern politics. Being a politician means you are involved in politics and hold a political office; however, there is a drastically diverse group of individuals within this title. The term public servant serves as the alternative to the term politician. A public servant is someone who is focused on putting the needs of the community before their own. The key is identifying the difference in your local, state, and federal level leaders. This is certainly not an easy task, that is more complicated as you go up through the levels of government.
Becoming familiar with the individuals that are asking for your vote is important on all levels of government; however, local officials have the most impact on your everyday life. Local government/ local elected officials control the tax revenue that maintains the city streets you drive on, the parks where your children play, the sidewalks where you walk with your family, the EMT or police officer that arrives at your house in an emergency, and so much more. Understanding the goals, vision, and motivation of your Mayor and City Councilmembers are just as important as picking your President, dare I say even more important. Over the next few weeks, take some time to dig a little deeper into the candidates that are on your ballot.
The best way to do this is to reach out to them directly. By having a short phone conversation, a quick email, or a conversation over a coffee, you will get a deeper understanding of whether they fit into the politician or public servant term. They will not mind! They are campaigning, and appreciate the opportunity to win your vote! Ask them questions about growth, redevelopment, infrastructure, beautification efforts, community safety, and sustainability. A true public servant will focus on the experiences, opinions, and goals of the community they represent. You will rarely hear the word “I” when talking to a public servant.
“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.” - Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians