I prefer “statesman” to “politician”

It pains me to say it, and I still have to make a conscious decision to use the word. But since being elected mayor, I guess one could technically consider me a politician. Shortly after winning the election, I was visiting with my mother and talking about what issues were sure to lie ahead and I said the word “politician” and she quickly stepped in and said, “I prefer the term ‘statesman.'” A quick look in the thesaurus on my computer brings up the terms national leader, elder, important person and mentor. The title of politician never did sit well in my craw, and with this new adjective affixed to my name by dear mother, it put it in a new perspective. I have, for some time, had a natural aversion to politicians. The negative connotation associated with their names even made me think twice about running for elected office. I guess much of those ill feelings are attributed to the fact that most stories you hear about politicians have some type of negative spin associated with them. I am not lumping all politicians into one big terrible group, but by and large, politicians are just that’ politicians. They have to talk out of both sides of their mouths. I have witnessed some of the best politicians at work firsthand and seen the king of politicians, former President Bill Clinton, sit on a witness stand and lie to the American public about “what his definition of is, is.” Plain and simple, I don’t do politics. I say what I am thinking and feeling and I will stand on my ethics and moral values in the decisions I make. Period, end of story. The definition of “statesman” according to Webster’s is “1: one versed in the principles or art of government; esp.: one actively engaged in conducting the business of a government or in shaping its policies. 2: one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship.” The second definition is what I prefer to focus on. That is the true definition that I want to guide my actions as an elected official for the City of Brady. Cong. Mike Conaway stopped by my office Wednesday for a one-on-one interview. He has been busy making appointments and public appearances across the region in the past few weeks. He will be having another town hall meeting here in Brady Friday morning at 10 a.m. at the courthouse. His assistant called a few weeks ago and arranged for the interview. Now some of you might be disappointed to learn this and I’ll admit, it is a potential fault in my position both as editor of the newspaper and as mayor of our town, but I am one of the persons in this town that is not the least bit interested in the daily workings of both our state and national governments. I guess I fall in the same category as many others in that I don’t pay too close attention to any one particular issue unless it happens to have a direct effect on me, my town or something in which I happen to be directly involved. That being said, the congressman and his “schedule watcher” assistant showed up right on time and after a brief introduction, we began chatting about some of the issues that I had asked folks about. The top items of discussion were pretty much given ‘social security, medical insurance and the war. We even chatted about the media and how it differs in Washington D.C. than right here in the Heart of Texas. When it was all said and done, we went over our allotted time slot just a bit, but my apprehension that I felt prior to our meeting was all but gone and replaced with a feeling of genuineness. Not a bad feeling to have once you finish a discussion with a person who represents you, me and a considerable number of others when he votes his conscience there in Washington. The congressman congratulated me on being interested enough in the future of our town to get involved as an elected official. The best tidbit of information I got from the entire conversation was in the last two minutes as we were talking about the future of our town and our nation. He told me that, in considering spending any dollars by the local government, be sure to deal with the issues using current dollars and avoid putting the financial burden on the next generation. “Look at the life of the project and adjust the funding ideas accordingly. If the project has a life expectancy of 10 years, make sure it is paid for in less time than is expected. Let the people who are going to use the project, pay for that project. The issue that quickly came to mind is the refurbishment of our city streets a few years ago. Just a week or so ago, I signed the $300,000 check for the annual interest and principal payment for that $3.28 million note. That note is amortized for 20 years. Granted, the annual payments will go down as the principal decreases and the exact schedule won’t be that much each year, but this is, by far, the largest financial document I had ever had my signature attached thereto. Using the idea made by the congressman, that street project should have been estimated to last 20 years. But the matter of fact that we all know is that the refurb job won’t last that long. So the task we have before us is to pay off that note early, if possible, while planning for and saving considerable resources to implement a street replacement program that is more than a surface job. Quite a task. Now, I am not complaining about the fact that our streets were in dire need of refurbishment when the project was done. I agreed with the decision at the time. Now, I am looking at the future of our town and beginning to plan where we want to be in five, 10 and 20 years. It appears that we have considerable challenges before us. The concept the congressman recommended seems simple and they are truly wise words from a man whom gained my confidence in a very short amount of time. It will be nice to watch more of what is to come from our elected officials.’JS

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