Do our city leaders have the ‘right stuff?’

first_img For Port Arthur to have a chance at redemption, we must elect individuals who understand business and can work together for the whole city — every citizen. It will not be easy.First, invigorate professionals with the ability to handle this turnaround, understand what it will take to achieve it and have the passion to run for office. That is another issue altogether.Rich Macke is publisher of the Port Arthur News. What’s interesting about these 10 traits is they are similar to the top 10 traits of a successful businessperson. So let’s take this list above and compare it to the individuals currently elected to sit on Port Arthur City Council. Only four of the nine — seats 6, 7, 8 and mayor — have business background and experience. Either multiple districts or the city as a whole elects these office holders.That means the majority of city council officer holders have either minimal or zero background in business. Most of these people are elected by one district with very low voter turnout.When communities seek to rejuvenate, revive and revitalize their city, they need to look for a common factor when electing candidates. Do they have solid business sense? Because if they do not, how can they understand the workings of a $60 million business, which is the yearly budget for the city of Port Arthur. Answer: , They cannot.When communities continue to elect individuals without business background, pushing to promote and elect activists with one political goal or aspiration, the city as a whole is affected negatively. Compare where Port Arthur is today to where it was 10, 15 and 20 years ago. The answer is simple as this has been the trend, for many years now. Politics is not for everyone. For some who think it is, it may not be for them either. Citizens of communities across the nation struggle to find the right candidates to vote for who will represent them faithfully and effectively.Effective and foreword-thinking council members are difficult to find, especially here in Port Arthur. I don’t think some understand what their elected position is, or what it takes to be effective.Yes, being a city council member is a difficult position. Understanding that the position must walk a fine line between making decisions on constituents’ behalf and what the city needs can be taxing. Knowing the difference is harder. Excluding their own personal feelings is probably hardest of allcenter_img Studies conducted by multiple state municipality groups on what defines an effective city council member identified 10 traits successful city council members have in common. Here they are:Self-care: Council work is uniquely difficult and it is easy for elected officials to neglect themselves physically, emotionally, relationally. Public life can be taxing and one can’t be effective and make good community decisions when self-care is absent. Sure, you want to take care of your city: Take care of yourself first!Know-it-alls (NOT!):  There is an ego boost when elected that brings a misguided sense of “I should know it all.” Well, they don’t, and six of the smartest words an elected official can use are: “I don’t understand; can you help?” We call it “teachability,” openness and a willingness to learn.A good council member studies, listens, and is willing to have preconceived ideas challenged. He’s open to staff, the public, even that council member he dislikes! He recognizes his own biases, prejudices and values.Good communicator: An effective councilmember communicates intelligently, articulately and thoughtfully. He or she is able to persuade and change opinions without bullying or manipulating. They build consensus and pull a council together, show colleagues they understand the issues and are able to logically explain how decisions are made.R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: More than “just a little bit,” an effective councilmember is respectful, polite and deferential toward all: fellow councilmembers, staff and the public —regardless of likes, dislikes friendships, politics. He doesn’t insult, attack or demand.Good loser: Our true character emerges when things don’t go our way. An effective public servant is emotionally and relationally mature and shows it when losing. He or she stays calm when a vote goes the ‘wrong’ way, respects voters and the process, even when she is on the minority side of a heartfelt issue. She remains statesmanlike in defeat.“Do you swear?” An effective council member puts the law, code and citizens first, regardless of personal benefit or bias. He chooses to set aside preconceived ideas and personal likes/dislikes and he consistently achieves the highest level of adherence to his oath of office. He respects state law, city bylaws, council rules and parliamentary procedures. He knows when to recuse himself from the process to protect his integrity and that of the council.Pitchforks and torches: A good council member emerges when he votes for something in the best interests of the city while public outcry demands the opposite. Some of the most important decisions an elected official makes may be counter to a barrage of angry emails and public comment.A good councilmember also recognizes an angry mob does not necessarily reflect the view of a quiet majority. He understands a flood of emails does not necessarily confirm public opinion in general and makes their decisions based on merit, not emotion.Separation of powers: An effective council member respects the role and function of the public, city staff and the city’s executive. Most council/mayor/staff problems occur when those boundaries are not honored. He knows the limits to his authority.High personal standards of character and ethics: An effective council member doesn’t embarrass fellow colleagues with inappropriate conduct or activities. They exercise personal self-discipline to never bring dishonor to the elected position.Picks up the phone: Responds to citizens politely and promptly and remembers that “they” are the boss. Values their contributions, comments and concerns and responds accordingly.last_img