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Talking it over: The role of elected officials

I know I have written about this several times over the years but sometimes we all just need a reminder. I want to start out by saying thank you to the many people who have served as elected officials in this area over the years and especially former and present city council and school board members. They have a huge responsibility as they make decisions for and about the people who have elected them.

That is also what they need to remember as they do just that. They are the voice of the people, not of themselves or administrators. When considering the decisions that they make at each meeting, whether public or private, they should have a good idea how the general public would feel about it and be willing to listen to them when they disagree.

I can cite a recent case where this happened in Hancock. The city council passed an ordinance that several people in the community objected to. Many of these people came to the meetings to talk about it while others talked privately to the council members.  It wasn’t always easy to have this brought out openly in the newspaper but was an important part of keeping the public informed.

The council members heard opinions from both sides of the issue and then decided to compromise. They set up a committee to work on changing the ordinance to fit the needs of all the concerned citizens. I applaud them for listening to the people and doing what they felt was best for them.

Now the school board is facing an issue that has caused some concern for many in the school district. A large group of these people attended the meeting on Monday night to voice their opinion. I can only assume that many others spoke privately with the board members offering their opinion. I know I was one of those.

I hope that the board members will take these conversations to heart and remember that these are the people they are representing and need to be making decisions based on that. Yes, they do hire administrators to make recommendations, but ultimately the board members know the people best and know what is best for the district. Just as the city council members made the difficult decision to compromise, perhaps the school board can do likewise.

At the same time, the public needs to remember that these officials are better educated about what is taking place and are making decisions based on that.

We have a really good thing going right now in our community when it comes to the school and the city. I encourage our elected officials to continue to make good decisions, to keep the voters informed through open communication and to listen to them when they voice a concern. I also encourage the public to stay informed, remain understanding and open-minded. Together we can continue to keep this good thing going.