Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In or Out

One of the curiosities of representational government is sorting out who, exactly, is being represented. A President, a Governor, a Mayor, any and all who are elected to such offices, have to reconcile their 'election mandate' with the simple reality that not everyone voted for them. Additionally, sometimes it's hard to define what we want of our elected leaders-do we want people who reflect our wishes and do our bidding or do we want those in office who see their positions as striking off and striking out in new directions for the betterment of all of us.

When we all clamor for those in charge to 'listen to the people' we sometimes forget, we, the people, don't speak with one voice or have one thought. From the first tea party in Boston Harbor to more recent incarnations across the country this past Election Day, we're still working to define, and then refine, what we, the people, want of those whom we elect.

Locally, and as someone who is NFH (Not From Here) I apologize if I offend (I have to say that; you know I don't really mean it), we've spent decades talking at one another instead of with each other. We've often substituted diatribe for discussion and have employed historical examples of past failures to rationalize opposition to planned improvement efforts.

My wife and I raised two children to caring and responsible adults here in The Rose City and always had an interest and engagement in school and after-school activities, ranging from the PTO through the Board of Education. As the years have passed we've come to think of Norwich as where we live, not where we live right now, and have expanded the range and scope of meetings and volunteer commitments, from fund-raising for a variety of public health issues to serving on advisories and committees. We've seen all good people lend a hand to those neighbors whose need is greater. It's time for all those hands to join together again.

The Winter of 2010 is rushing towards us, but the winter of our discontent may have already arrived. This time last year we wondered how those we'd just elected to the City Council and the Board of Education were going to manage what we feared would be horrific revenue shortfalls needed to run our city. A year on, the only thing that has changed is the degree of certainty that a horrible end has replaced horrors without end as state deficit projections signal a greater cause for pessimism than even last year's budget.

We, the people, need to be as informed and engaged in the running of our city as those whom we've elected to do so on our behalf. If all you did Election Day was vote one way or the other on the three municipal bond issues and didn't attend Monday's City Council meeting, last night's Small Business Administration presentation in Council chambers, this morning's workshop on economic development in the NCDC offices or at least think about this Saturday's session with our state representatives (starting at 11 in the Central Fire House), then you're part of the problem we all face in turning this city around. We can't do it without you.

Life is like a lottery where you must be present to win. And sometimes just being is present enough.
-bill kenny

No comments: