Today’s Courier Herald Column:
All politics is local. The phrase is trite, overused, and even misunderstood. It’s also very true.
Local races often receive the short end of the stick when it comes to both media coverage and voter interest. Even among the group of my most politically active friends, many of us have difficulty articulating the differences between the good people running for clerk of court, judge, or county commissioner.
It’s frankly not where the action is. It’s much easier to argue about the slip the President made during his most recent public remarks or how Mitt Romney treated his dog on a car trip two decades ago.
Yet the decisions made at the local level are the ones that affect us every day. Those leaders are the ones that fix our potholes. They are the ones that keep police on our streets and judges in our courtroom. And they are the ones that educate our children.
Writing a column for a statewide audience makes it difficult to highlight too many of these races. When possible, it is done because there’s something unique or unusual going on in an area that makes it newsworthy or has impact on a larger area of the state.
Today, I’ll write about one race that will affect very few who read this, but to rather emphasize that these are the positions that are on the front line of we the people exercising our civic duty. Also, much of what we deal with in political news is of the negative variety. Sometimes it’s good to highlight one of the people who is working for a lower level office that is just doing the right thing.
Dr. Jay Melvin is running for the Chatham County School Board. He lives four hours away from my home, but he’s the only candidate I made a contribution to this cycle.
I met Jay originally through Peach Pundit. He comments regularly, and usually has a fairly common sense approach to most issues, sprinkled with a bit of wit. I’ve since gotten to know not only him, but his wife Tricia and their three sons. They’re great parents and they have some amazing kids.
Jay has run for city council twice before, once losing by a single vote. Yet he’s not running for office because he needs to “be somebody”. I get the sense from getting to know him and his family that he’s one of a dwindling breed. He’s one of those people who actually believes we all have a civic duty to fulfill if we as a country are going to continue our country’s 236 year experiment with self-government.
He and Tricia have extended the knowledge and appreciation to their sons, who have been able to recite not only the Presidents in order since they were very young, but can also talk about their favorite Presidents and why. Some of their answers were frankly obscure and sent me back to my history books.
Jay’s the kind of guy I would want setting policy for a school system. He’s also the kind of guy I want in elective office. He doesn’t need the office. It’s something he genuinely feels called to do.
We need more Jay Melvins at the local level. And certainly at levels above that too. But to sort them out from those who see a future President in their mirror every morning, we as voters have to spend the time to get to know who the folks are that are running for county commissioner, tax commissioner, school board, and the various other offices that keep our government running at the level which affects us every day.
Jay’s a great guy who will be an asset to the Chatham School Board. There are others like him out there. It’s up to us to make sure we find them.