When we started The Rail in November, 2010, it was in response to the almost quizzical election results that placed former Village President Jeff Miller into office over incumbent Pete Clemens by a landslide. To me, this decision reflected a step backwards for the community, a choice that prioritized style over assumed substance in candidates. Knowing that the Village of Holly needed the voice of reason, common sense and thinking forward to be heard, The Rail was the mouthpiece for that voice.
Two years later, the Village of Holly is still facing some monumental challenges: our water and sewer rates are still absurdly high, economic development has barely grinded along; we’ve cut services and still have painful choices on the horizon. Several Village of Holly Council Members have made it clear that they aren’t interested in receiving feedback from residents, or at least feedback that is online, and that’s apparent in dumbfounding outcomes like denying former Council Member Sandra Klevin’s resignation or the circuses surrounding personnel issues in the Village Administration.
I long have said that I while I always gave it consideration, I wasn’t terribly interested in running for Village Council. I feel that a community needs smart, talented engaged people on both sides of the board tables, if for nothing else to do what government can’t or shouldn’t do, and to keep our elected officials honest. Being a public official can lead to great accomplishments, but it can also tie one’s hands on others.
But one conversation I had with Council Member Jason Hughes sunk in. I asked him, “Why are you running for Village President?” His response was simple, as are most of the wisest thoughts in life: “If I don’t run, who will?”
Who will? That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? The million dollar question. Residents, including myself, often decry our public officials for dumb-headed decisions and all of the political games that are played in small towns. Trust in politicians is understandably low at all levels of government. But if we keep recycling the same people for office, how will we get anything than we’ve already seen?
That’s a scary prospect.
Despite my reluctance to jump out of the cheap seats and into the fray, I’ve decided to run for a seat on the Village Council. If I don’t, who will? In the end, it’s the voters who decide who they want representing them, but if the people who have the know-how and the motivation to do things differently don’t step up and toss their hat in the ring, what other options do we have?
When politicians use the word “change,” it’s often empty rhetoric, but if we really do want change, then we need to make it happen ourselves and together, and we need to take responsibility for not only what happens in our houses and at our dinner tables, but in our community as well. But this isn’t a campaign speech—I’ll save that for more appropriate venues.
So where does that leave The Rail? Although the word “ethics” is sometimes treated as foreign word lost in translation in Holly, being a “fox in the hen house” is neither preferable nor admirable when it comes to media and government. There must be a separation from the fourth estate to preserve the integrity of both. It’s already enough of a challenge in Holly to wear as many hats as many of our engaged volunteers and servants do and keep those hats from overlapping hairs. To try and wear both the hat of the critical media as well as ask for the trust of the people as a public servant is not only disingenuous, it’s ethically impossible.
As such, the only right and ethical decision is to suspend publication of The Rail while I’m seeking or serving in public office. In this case, I can’t have my cake and eat it too.
The Rail will remain online for Holly residents to view the archives—a form of community memory that might paint a more complete picture of some of the candidates who are running. Depending on the outcome of the election in November, The Rail might fire up its boilers again, but we’ll cross those tracks when we get there.
I hope our readers will continue to keep up on current affairs in our local media sources, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to have put a spotlight on some of the highs and lows of our community. As a result of this election, numerous positions on community boards and commissions may open up—I also hope that the idea of “new blood” will flow through those arteries as well.
Since my penchant for whimsical analogies has been satisfied, I’ll close on a cliché: as Ghandi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world.
There…I think I’ve batted the cycle.
Thanks everyone, and GET OUT AND VOTE in November!