Monday, February 25, 2008

Interesting editorial in Sunday's Miner...

A thought provoking op/ed piece appeared yesterday. As a candidate for office, the question was posed, "what's in it for them?", as in what benefit am I looking for as a candidate seeking public office... I guess.

I'm going to answer, or at least attempt to answer, in the next post. For this post though I'm going to share the editorial with you and make some comments.

Here is the link to the op/ed.

We have to ask, what's in it for them?

Mark Borgard
Miner Editor

Every candidate, no matter the race, has a hidden agenda. That is a fact.

They will tell you they are running to better a city or state or nation, or they will say they just want to make a difference, but the truth is, they are running for a reason.

Most times, the reason is not apparent until after they take office.

We try to uncover their agendas. Through debates and forums and questionnaires, voters attempt to discover the "real" reason why a candidate is running for office.

What are they looking to gain? How will they personally benefit if elected? Why would they allow themselves to be scrutinized and dissected in public?

Like I said earlier, I'm happy to answer these questions in the next post.

Discovering hidden agendas at the local level can be easy and hard. Some are a no-brainer, because their agendas aren't really hidden. Take Bill Nugent for example. Mr. Nugent is running for mayor of Kingman. He says he wants to clean up city government, which is certainly in need of a thorough scrubbing, but why does he want to do that? Because he's a swell guy out to create harmony and togetherness?

Heck no. He wants to eliminate some of the red tape he's had to go through as a developer in this city.

Why not all of the red tape, if he is so bold?? I think the editor could have expounded a bit more on this subject or point he is trying to make. Why would a developer, that develops in many locations throughout the western United States want to reduce only some of the red tape?? Could it be because the red tape in Kingman is comparatively more complex and difficult than it is in other area's of the county and state?? This is what local developers and builders (not named Nugent) are telling me.

What about the other two candidates for mayor? Their agendas are much harder to ascertain. Former Mayor Monica Gates, whose husband is a developer, says she wants to right some of the wrongs she's seen in the two years since she was mayor. Her agenda really hasn't changed from 2004 or 2006, when she won and lost, respectively. She wants Kingman to grow, and she wants to see Kingman's status enhanced in the state of Arizona. Both would be beneficial.

I find this particularly funny, especially since the editor has only recently done a '180' on growth related issues... especially compared to the last city election cycle. An election cycle that saw the editor write that this mayoral candidate 'just doesn't get it'.

Don't get me wrong though, as an advocate of growth myself, I welcome the editor into the fold of folks that understand the only way to improve Kingman is to grow Kingman and attract the amenities that the community is demanding.

Then there's John Salem. While Mr. Salem plays down his ties to development, the truth is that he's tied to development just as closely as Gates or Nugent.

His wife is a member of the Short family, which owns extensive land around Rattlesnake Wash. She is also a fiduciary of other land holdings around Kingman. Mr. Salem may be a mechanic and a business owner, but there are certainly benefits that could be gained by those close to him if he were elected.

Well now... I've heard people in the community say that mayoral candidate Nugent is the Kingman Crossing candidate (I don't agree), but if those people are right then I think this makes mayoral candidate Salem the Rattlesnake Wash candidate. Not all that surprising though, I've heard this candidate say that he favors Rattlesnake Wash and wants to figure out a way to pay for it (with our tax dollars).

Finally, there are the nine candidates running for Kingman City Council. Some are closely connected to development, be it as a real estate representative,

That is me.

or they are close friends with developers.

Close friends?? Two of the other candidates are offspring of developers. Not that there is anything wrong with that... I consider my Dad a friend, but at the end of the day he is my Dad... there is a difference.

At least four of the candidates don't seem to have any connection to development, but, of course, that's what we thought about Kerry Deering when he ran for office in 2006. We've since discovered that he is a landowner of some primo property in the heart of the city.

Do these four have hidden agendas? You bet.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? No.

I guess that would depend on what the definition of 'is' is... I couldn't resist since the man that coined that phrase is still in the national news trying to get his wife elected to the top position in the country.

Also, I don't know if the campaign rules have changed since the last election, but I had to fill out and disclose all of my land holdings in Kingman (not all that impressive as compared to others I'm sure), and I believe that anyone can find out just how 'primo' a candidates holding are as the documents are public record.

It is likely that all of the candidates own property somewhere in Kingman... even if it is only the home they reside in. I'll assume that each candidate indeed does own a home or other property and decisions any of us might make can have an impact on that property. This election is NOT about property though... it is about the community.

I learned a valuable lesson after I sent a letter to the Arizona Attorney General's Office back in 2004 criticizing two executive sessions our Council held concerning our police department.

When I spoke with a representative of the AG, he stated that small-city Council members are inherently connected to development, be it as developers or bankers or land owners or real estate buyers and sellers. He told me that "average" citizens usually don't run for office because there's simply no benefit for them.

He suggested that it's better to know a candidate's motivation up front than it is to discover it later. I tend to agree with that.

I think that there are twelve extraordinary candidates seeking the four seats available on the Council. Anyone that ever fills out all the necessary paperwork and gathers the required petition signatures qualifies themselves as way more than 'average'. From what I have seen from my competition, no one is claiming to be something they are not.

I'm not sure what 'benefits' the other candidates may be seeking if elected, so far the only thing I have experienced is sacrifice... hardly a 'benefit'... and I bet the others probably feel similar.

But, stay tuned, I'll share my deepest motivations later in a new blog post. Until then feel free to see some of my shared insights on my campaign website.

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