27 October 2011

So, what are the qualifications to run for public office in Tooele?

Last night, I had the honor of being the mediator of the City Council debates being presented by the Tooele City Council and Tooele County Chamber of Commerce. I was both pleasantly surprised by the hundred or so people that showed up to watch, as well as disappointed in the 15k registered Tooele voters that didn't. 

I'll save that rant for another day.

What I want to talk about is, what are the qualifications for a public official here in Tooele?

Are there any beyond a willingness to serve?............................... Should there be? 

Last night, there were six candidates for three open seats. Two of these men are incumbents, a third incumbent choosing not to run again. This leaves four "newbies" although to be fair, one is a past Mayor and Councilman in Tooele. All seem to be reasonable, intelligent men. They have varied backgrounds. Some are homegrown. Some are transplants. We have racial diversity, with Caucasion, African-American, and Hispanic candidates (the lone female candidate didn't make it through the Primary). We have small business owners, educators, government employees, retired military. A great slate of candidates.

What I'm concerned about is more intangible. Of the four non-incumbents, only one of these men attends Tooele City meetings regularly, saying that they come when "something important" is on the agenda. One says he reads the minutes of each meeting. Only one says he thinks it's important to "know what's going on" in the City, even during this election.

I personally would feel more comfortable having that info before I jumped into something if it was me, but I'm funny that way.

Secondly, it's become apparent to me that not all of the candidates know what the job itself entails. One candidate didn't know that Tooele Council meetings start at 5pm. One says he wants the City to build more schools, not understanding that it's not part of what the City government does. One says he'll revamp one of the departments, not understanding that that responsibility rests with the Mayor of Tooele. One says that he has little interest in budgets, never having done one. Since the Council acts as the "legislative" body of our City government here in Tooele, their job is simple enough: ordinances and budget. 

Knowing (or at least hoping!) that it's not a question of intelligence here, I'm really wondering what the qualifications for this "job" should be, since that is what it is.

I'm looking to "hire" three people to manage my City for the next four years. I came out of last nights meeting pretty solid on who I was going to vote for. Other people came out of the same meeting with completely different conclusions.

All I know is that I hope more people start taking an interest in how their City runs, so they can make an informed decision when it's time to vote. I'm also hoping we have a large turnout, because nothing chaps me like people that complain but don't vote!

So, get out there citizens of Tooele!  Make an impact for good!

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