David Rodeback's Blog

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005
My Ideal Candidate for Mayor of American Fork, Part I

There is a mayoral election in American Fork in November 2005. I don't know Mayor Barratt's intentions (to run for re-election or not), and I don't know who else is running. While still in this state of tactical ignorance, I hasten to present here, in several parts, posted as time permits, a description of my ideal mayoral candidate for American Fork. For what it's worth, my ideal City Council candidate is very much the same.

First, some disclaimers:

  • For the most part, I'm talking about a candidate's personal attributes, philosphy, and leadership style, rather than specific positions on specific issues.
  • Because I am describing an ideal, I don't expect any candidate to fit my description perfectly. But the closer a candidate comes, the happier I will be as I stand in the voting booth with my stylus, punching (but not dangling or impregnating) chads.
  • Since I have no idea who is running, this cannot be construed as an endorsement or critique of any specific candidate.
  • I don't care whether the candidate of choice is the incumbent or a challenger, and I don't care whether or not he or she holds some other public office now.
  • I'm not saying that everything I intend to describe is something that is lacking in our present officials. I am saying that these things are very important for the present and the foreseeable future.
  • I don't care whether the candidate in question is male or female. I don't care about age or skin color or religious affiliation. I don't care about surname or lineage. For local purposes I almost don't care about liberal or conservative, but let's avoid the kooks at either extreme, okay?
  • Finally, my list is in the order of convenience, not importance. Today's installment consists of a few characteristics I happen to be able to describe quickly.

Common Sense. We know it when we see it. For example, common sense says that trees are good and that our historical identity is important, but not every tree or old building is sacred or historic. Some are, and those should be preserved. Others are simply old, outdated, and in the way, perhaps even dangerous; these should be removed. Likewise, our downtown economy is important and deserves more official attention than it gets - but not every downtown business is worth defending in economic terms. And growth itself is neither inherently good nor inherently bad for a city. It is a reality which ought to be managed responsibly, not unduly feared or excessively encouraged.

A Modern Understanding of Conflicts of Interest. Conflicts of interest inevitably arise from time to time. Sooner or later, an official will find that some proposed decision or policy promises direct benefit to herself or to family or friends. The responsible modern politician declares conflicts of interest early and openly, without being prodded, goaded, badgered, or sued. She goes out of her way to avoid the appearance of conniving behind the scenes when a conflict does exist. Sometimes (it certainly doesn't have to be always) she may recuse herself from a vote or even a discussion, where a conflict of interest exists. Frank, early disclosure probably matters even more than recusal.

A healthy respect for the rule of law. This includes understanding the law, enforcing it reasonably and professionally; following it even when it's inconvenient; changing it when it doesn't make sense, is unnecessarily restrictive, or is overly complex or abstruse . . . and publicly and privately expecting all other city officials and employees to do the same, within the bounds of their responsibilities.

A sense of the importance to our community of commerce and the people who conduct it, tempered by . . .

A genuine, active commitment to improving the quality of life in American Fork - which doesn't always equate with increasing the amount of commerce, by the way.

A willingness to lobby the State professionally, creatively, and relentlessly when the State (all together now, spell U-D-O-T) refuses to do something reasonable which would help the city, or when the state insists on doing something harmful.

That's enough for now. Part II will address professionalism generally and as it pertains to communication.

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