Prepare for public life

Published 7:24 pm Monday, June 7, 2004

By Staff
Our View
Now that the local primaries are over, and the seats of several office holders secured, the Atmore Advance would like to offer a little advice to our newest elected officials.
Since some of you may be newcomers to elected office, let us tell you some things you can expect.
You're going to get phone call, lots of them. You'll get them from people you've never met before you were elected. And regardless of whether or not they voted for you, they're going to expect you to listen and they're going to want answers to their questions.
The press will start calling you – and wanting answers.
Accept the fact now that you are no longer a private citizen. People will be watching you. The press will be watching you.
Many of you are businessmen; come to grips now that there are different rules for those who hold public offices. Remember that word, 'public.' It informs many of these new rules you'll have to learn. Public meetings, public records, open government are all things you'll have to accept and understand.
Many of you say you'd like to bring your business sense to the world of public administration. Fine and good, but you must learn that there are rules governing just how you can operate when doing the public's business. A private meeting or conference call may be well and good in the world of private business, but no longer now that you are serving the public good.
Remember too, that change in government does not often come quickly, and things may not always be as easy as they seem. You're dealing with a bureaucracy many times larger than a small business with many vested interests that may, and often will, run counter to your own.
Realize that you are part of a public body serving the whole of Escambia County. You must find a balance between representing your local interests and doing what is best for all of Escambia's citizens.
Understand that the taxpayers are not to be toyed with. The patience of an electorate can be short indeed.
For you newcomers, there will be much to learn. We wish you wisdom and providence during your term in office, and ask that you seek always to do what is right.
We will be watching you, and the voters will be paying attention.

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