I’ve developed a bit of a reputation, it appears, for being happy go lucky. LUV that.
But that doesn’t mean I do not have strong opinions. In fact, there are people in this community who can tell you from experience I not only do have strong opinions, but can become quite vocal about them.
In America in 2013 it’s easy to find people who say they “don’t do politics”. That surprises and dismays me, no matter how many times I hear it. What is “politics”? I joke a bit that it is the ultimate euphemism, a word which manages to encapsulate anything and everything worthy of being cared about in life. If that’s an overstatement, I believe it is not by much.
Do you care about dog parks? There’s recent proof that gets “political”. Marriage? Chickens? Commuting? Parking? Toys? Food? And so on. If I can’t point you directly to said issue in developing or existing legislation – the eggs (sometimes rotten) resulting from politics – I can assure you there will never be more than one degree of separation. The abdication of politics to others is, in my opinion, to leave all that is important in life, how you live that life, to others. Does anyone really want to do that? I hope not.All that being said, yes, I understand the desire to avoid “political” discussions. Unfortunately, our society has evolved – used loosely here – such that real debate of substantive issues is difficult to facilitate without at least one party coming away offended, mad. Issues of real consequence should be thoughtfully considered and debated, not only by elected officials, but by an involved citizenry. Our feelings and sensitivities too often have us leaving weighty issues to be decided by others. That is often to our own detriment, that of our country, of individual communities.
Just over a year ago as I was making the rounds of various holiday events I was struck by a comment I heard several times: How do you stay so positive? You hear that once and you forget it. But when you hear it several times from multiple individuals in a short period of time, you take note. The catalysts for the comments were the pieces I’d been writing in the Winter Park Maitland Observer. I’d simply been writing about positive Local stories, Locals, this wonderful community. I was surprised by the comments initially, but came to understand the comment was coming from Local residents who have certain concerns about Winter Park, that their own voices were not being heard, they were apprehensive to voice them.
That ability to debate weighty issues and come away friends, shaking hands with all parties focused on what’s best for the community, isn’t always what it should be. Yeah, I’m stating the obvious here. I’d be a big hypocrite if I said I’ve always done such well in the past. I have not. I have much to improve on and dare I say Winter Park ‘leaders’ have much they can improve on as well. Is it not everyone’s desire to see the community evolve in a way best for all residents? Surely, each would claim that to be the goal. So, substantive debate should be easier than it has been shown to be.
New Year’s Eve I received a message from friends on facebook inquiring about my possibly running for city commission. Others have inquired about same over the last month, having heard I did what is commonly called “pulling papers”. Yes, I did do it, back around the first of December.
I’d never before considered holding any Local political office, but Patrick Chapin, head of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, asked me back in July if I was considering doing so. The question came from out of left field, surprised me. I said no and meant it. But the more I thought about the question, the more I thought maybe I should. I am strongly anti- “career politician”. I like the idea of the reluctant candidate, yet someone who would do it with all their energy, would be pro-small business, pro-historic preservation. Would I vote for me? Yeah, I think I would.
But I do NOT want to hold political office. I LUV being Winter Park’s self-appointed head cheerleader. Yet, I want more people who are NOT politicians, who do NOT want to be politicians, of whatever degree, to serve in office. Citizens serve other citizens, their communities. Politicians, I believe, serve power brokers, those people who have funded them seeking to achieve specific objectives. I consider myself to be very much a Libertarian. I have difficulty placing faith in government, organizations, groups. Those entities have disappointed me time and time again in my life. I believe in PEOPLE . . . . individuals you can get to know and understand, who operate based upon principles and morals. I can easily believe in principled and thoughtful individuals who work for government, even though I often have much disdain for government itself.The reason I “pulled papers”, primarily, was to ensure substantive issues in Winter Park receive their day in the public discourse. It was nice last year for Winter Park not to be divided by a discussion of important issues; but, absence of an election means issues which deserve public attention and scrutiny, real discussion, are less likely to receive just that. I am among those who believe Winter Park has important issues before it which deserve a community-wide discussion. So, honestly, I pulled papers to ensure that happens. If no one else was to step forward, I was prepared to do that myself.
I am happy to say I know someone who is in the process of filing. To my knowledge, he’s not held elected office before and I know for certain, if elected, he would not view this as a lily pad opportunity . . . get elected to this, move on to Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. later. That is important to me, as I want someone focused on Winter Park, what is best for Winter Park, not courting potential donors for future campaigns to move on, seeking more power.
I have heard numerous times since the Capen House issue arose that “Winter Park will not be governed via e-mail.” When I heard that I was stunned by such condescension. I spend a lot of time listening to and sharing the concerns of Local residents via facebook and other social media. Citizens in this community, just as others around the country, are BUSY . . . raising families, running businesses, volunteering, attending Local events, LIVING. They do not always express or have time to share their opinions face to face. That does not make their opinions any less relevant or meaningful. As an elected official, you do not have to respect every opinion. No one could ever manage such as that. But as an elected official, one representing a community, you must respect that they have a right to share their opinion, and you then have an obligation, I believe, to listen to it when done in a reasonable manner. If not, you are not fulfilling a very basic function of your office.
There is no place I have ever lived that I enjoy calling home as much as I do Winter Park. This is a wonderful community, with many special characteristics which are worthy of protecting as we move into the future.
Weighty issues deserve discussion. I am happy to know they will have their day this go around.