Today marks my last post on Res Publica (at least for awhile, perhaps forever). Some will no doubt sigh in relief. Others – a few anyway – might feel genuinely let down. Many who have heard me talk for at least three years about re-entering Gloversville politics might be wondering at this sudden change of direction. I’m sure it may be a bit of an unexpected surprise, but the issue has been bubbling along underneath the surface of my existence for some time, but really took on serious consideration over this last year.
So, here’s what’s changed:
This is the biggie.
The human condition, sadly, is only able to look out from the present, but we really have no idea which way the twists and turns of fate will take us. All the way back in 2008 I thought to myself, “Hey, if you’ve got so much to say and such a burning desire to be back in the hot seat, why not start a blog to let people know how you feel?”
So I did, with the full intention of using the material researched on this blog as a springboard to one of two possible offices – Councilman-at-Large or Mayor – the choice of which was going to be determined by my time availability.
About a year ago, the first bump in the road to fulfillment of that plan occurred in the form of a scholarship opportunity. I didn’t find out about it until late 2011, but apparently all the way back in 2008 New York State created the Veterans Tuition Award and, fortunately for me, I was eligible.
Like so many people with a dream to go back to school, the triple threat pressures of time, money and children made going to college unsustainable if left to my own devices. But this scholarship changed everything! Removing even one of those roadblocks to college suddenly made college possible. I had to take the opportunity. I’m not getting any younger.
Even then I thought, “I can do it. I can be in political office, work my full time job with its relatively heavy overtime needs, attend college with a nearly full time credit load and not go batshiat crazy in the process.
What a dreamer.
As the year has progressed since I first veered onto this new path, college has – not entirely unexpectedly – become increasingly more time intensive. I imagine it’ll only get worse from here.
So, the thought that I could do it all has had to be reconsidered in the light of reality. The truth is, I can’t do it all, not consistently anyway. Something would suffer. Either the city’s needs, college or my family (who have already suffered enough as it is). I had to choose a path, and I choose college and whatever direction that takes me in.
But that wasn’t the only reason for this change. There’s a little more. In the last year I’ve begun reconsidering the wisdom of party politics, and I also began to truly contemplate what my role in the local political process would look like if I were to make the attempt.
Frankly, I thought it looked ugly.
Time to lose the party:
I chose as my major Public Policy/Public Affairs. My aim is to ultimately qualify to be a City/County Manager, though other options, such as law school, may present themselves.
A few months ago, I learned most managers avoid having a publicly defined political persuasion. Government is rife enough with political issues. An appointed leader needs to be free of that if s/he is going to work adequately with everyone. With my future plans in mind, and a growing disgruntlement with the form of my party’s stance on issues, I began to seriously reconsider the wisdom of being complicit in partisan politics.
But I’ve held this dream tightly for years and it wasn’t something I was going to quickly give up. To that end, even as I rethought the whole notion I still went about routing a petition to become a member of Gloversville’s Republican Committee. My thought was that I might have some singular influence upon that body and actually turn the political process in this city from one of personalities, deals and conflicts toward process improvement.
Instead, after finding myself in a 25 minute conversation with the committee’s President I quickly realized I’d overestimated any possible influence one person – especially an outsider – could have in such a body. What I hoped for was never going to happen. Two weeks later, after some soul searching, I resigned.
Not willing to subject my city, my family and myself to painful electioneering and gridlock:
At the same time college was starting and my mind was turning away from partisan politics, election season was kicking off and I found myself fulfilling a promise to assist with my friend, John Clo’s, campaign for City Court Judge.
I had the opportunity to witness the serious emotional and physical stress of that endeavor on he and his family. I watched as a party picked candidate, selected not for her talents but for the simple expediency that she is not John Clo battled Clo to what, as I write this, appears to be an electoral victory. This was a harsh campaign. It really dawned on me (not for the first time) that I, like Clo, am a party outsider. If I were to run for anything, what I see happening to Clo will be my fate.
So I have to be realistic. I’m not much of a political uniter. I fear my presence as an elected official would simply fracture the council more than it has been these last few years. Not only would I spend four years wasting my time, I might actually make things worse through infighting. Since my goal has always been the betterment of the city, it no longer seems appropriate I put myself in a position that might endanger it further.
The conclusion of the matter…
All of this – college, the realization that I need to be neutral politically, and a lack of desire to turn my city’s and family’s life into a three ring circus – have forced me to abandon this long held dream. Permanently abandon? Well, maybe not. Who knows the future? It certainly won’t be for a decade or so, and after I take the opportunity to finish a number of other items on the bucket list.
I haven’t ruled out restarting this blog in the future, but if such a thing does come to pass it will somehow be different from the current incarnation. Alas, this particular effort must now go away. Thank you all for reading, commenting, and occasionally arguing. I plan to leave the blog in place through the end of the month in case there is anything people need from it. After December 1st, it will go dark.