First point, up front:
If you’re seeking a candidate for the Tompkins County Legislature who has an answer to every question; a policy paper for every predicament, please look elsewhere. I am not the candidate you want. I’m not the one who’ll satisfy your chosen wish.
Rather, I’m the candidate who relies upon you, my prospective constituents, to give me the direction I seek; to set the priorities that matter; to instruct me in the best ways to put your needs first. It’s not that I lack my own ideas. To the contrary, I have plenty of them. Rather, my belief in Old-Fashioned Representative Democracy demands that I first I listen to you, sense what you—the people I serve, both individually and collectively—want from an effective leader in County Government, and recognize your preferences before I proceed to chart my own chosen course.
As I see it, there are two types of political leaders: the Activist, and the Non-activist. To paint upon that latter category a more positive impression, I’ll call its members “Inclusionists.” It’s within that latter group that I find myself. I’m an Inclusionist.
In my view, the Activist places his or her agenda first. It may be a worthy agenda; it may be socially responsible and what’s truly best for the community and for each of us who populate it. But it’s the agenda that drives the candidate and her mission. It’s what makes her commit the time, toil and money to wage her campaign and to win. And it’s what motivates her as she subsequently represents her (often, like-minded) constituents in the halls of government. There’s nothing wrong with the Activist’s perspective, providing, of course, that everyone understands the candidate’s limitations. She may represent some constituents very well, but others not so much, if at all.
The Inclusionist, on the other hand, takes his marching orders from the People he serves. Whereas the Activist seeks most fervently to push the electorate toward the candidate’s point of view, the Inclusionist turns to his or her constituents and asks them to push that candidate to their, the voters’, point of view. That’s the position I take. So long as the public’s preferred path lies within the bounds of the Constitution, the laws, and good Common Sense, I welcome the prodding that each of you provide.
Of course, to paraphrase Lincoln, you can’t please all of the People all of the time. There may be times when our County, and most particularly our Tompkins-Southwest District, finds public opinion divided right down the middle. And at other uncertain moments, I, as your prospective legislator, may not know where the preponderance of public opinion truly stands. That’s why outreach and communication mean so very much to me. The more you talk with me, and the more I talk with you, the better informed we’ll each be, and the better I can represent you in Legislative Chambers, in that big, old, gray Daniel Tompkins Building downtown.
I like to say, “We who govern are servants, not kings.” I mean it. It’s what I said when I ran for Enfield Councilperson two years ago. It’s what I say again today as I ask for your vote to serve the Great Tompkins-Southwest, Legislative District #8, in our Tompkins County Legislature. It’s the governing North Star that guides me. To me, responsible governance springs from the bottom up. It does not lord from the top down. You are king, not me. We who serve must humble ourselves to those we represent.
If I hold the good fortune to earn your vote and to represent you in the County Legislature these next four years, never let me forget this guiding principle. Never allow power or arrogance or an absence of will to overtake sound judgment. And at any moment of forgetfulness or weakness, never let the voices of my 13 legislative colleagues, or those of government administrators, or those with who may happen at that moment to hold the loudest megaphones in the meeting room or the town square to drown out the voices of you, my constituents.
You’ll find other headings under this tab where you can learn more about my governing philosophy, my initial priorities, and the Four Strong Pillars of Leadership upon which I build my 2021 campaign. Yet always feel free to impose new challenges, to turn the wheel in new a direction as your own inclinations may lead you. I am your servant. You are my boss.