Local Leaders that We Need!
- 6 November 2011 by Author 0 Comments
Local Leaders that We Need!
By Richard Larsen
Not Published – Idaho State Journal 11/6/11
“All politics is local,” as former Speaker “Tip” O’Neill oftentimes repeated the wisdom and insights of his father. And no politics get more local than our municipal and county government. On Tuesday, voters in Pocatello and Chubbuck have the opportunity to go to the polls to select city councilmen. And while the local races usually lack the draw to the polls that national or even statewide elections do, they are in many ways more important. For the government that is closest to us has the most immediate impact on our quality of life by serving many of our basic needs.
We need men and woman in all levels of government who can balance our needs from government against the costs of those services. We need city councilmen who know how to balance a checkbook, are sensitive to those in the area who are on a fixed income, have core constitutionally based values, and place the interests and needs of the citizens collectively ahead of special interests or their own. In short, now is not a time to engage in identity politics, or vote for someone because we like them, like the way they talk, like the way they look, or because they belong to a certain political party.
When we cast votes for elected officials, it should not be a popularity contest, but should be based on their ideology, their character, their perception of the role of government, and what they plan to do once elected. Now is a time when bedrock principles should bear more sway with our votes. We don’t need councilmen whose egos are bent when they don’t get their way, who are willing to vote for every “good idea” that comes along, or have loyalties to unions or other special interests that may trump the need to do what’s right for the citizens. And all of our local candidates, without exception, are in the broad sense, good people.
With that as a backdrop, I’d like to explain who I think exemplify the qualities, traits, and values that are sorely needed in our councilmen for the next few years in Pocatello and Chubbuck. All four of these candidates are fiscal conservatives, and they need our votes and our support for Tuesday’s election.
Rarely on a local level do we have an opportunity to vote for someone with as well grounded a constitutional foundation as well as practical knowledge of the workings of government as Mark Balzer. In fact, I felt so strongly about Mark’s candidacy that I served for a short time as his campaign treasurer. I resigned that post because of possible conflict of interest as a Journal columnist. Mark is fiscally practical and is steeped in prudential money management. He has the courage to question everything and with his wisdom and values as a steward of the public trust, will ensure tax dollars are spent wisely and with propriety.
Paul Gagliardi is a transplant to Idaho from Massachusetts and brings with him a breadth of understanding of what can happen when government goes too far in subjugating individual rights. He loves Pocatello and has immense optimism for the region economically and comes to the council with the perspicacity that results from running his own business. His insights and values will contribute much to the future economic growth and job growth of the area, and his commitment to transparency will increase the openness and integrity of our city governance.
Jim Johnston is my nominee for Mr. Pocatello. Whenever there is a worthy cause, Jim is in the middle of it, volunteering, contributing, and often leading it. A man of sound judgment and business acumen, Jim has already brought a new depth of wisdom and insight to the council in his short tenure since being appointed last year. His grasp of real estate issues and his fiscal judgment are sorely needed on the council. His optimism and positivism are contagious, and we sorely need it.
Sean Mottishaw, running for Chubbuck city council. would be a veritable breath of fresh air wherever he has an opportunity to serve. Never have I known a man who has such vision and understanding of the environmental realities of the Pocatello and Chubbuck area, and has such viable and valuable insights into improvement of shared land use to the benefit of all. His expertise, if heeded, could significantly enhance the quality of life for the region, and his business acumen would bring much needed fiscal prudence to the Chubbuck council.
Local and state political races, though less prestigious than those on the national level, will likely affect our lives much more intimately and personally than the larger elections. Learn about the issues at stake and go to the polls prepared to vote for those you feel will do the best job for our community. Every vote counts, and it counts even more in local races whose outcome can be determined by how a few households participate.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.