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Thank you – Our view: We owe our electeds sincere respect for their service

Lions Club members are rightfully proud of the motto, “We serve.”
This week, a group of locally elected officials are officially stepping away from their roles as representatives of the people after many years of service. Like the Lions, they may proudly take credit for serving the public.
Elected representatives of the people in Silver Lake, Plato, Glencoe, New Auburn Township, the Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board, and other local governing bodies are stepping aside. We owe them a debt of gratitude, regardless of whether they resigned, did not seek re-election and their term has come to an end or are leaving because voters selected someone else.
Being an elected representative of the people, particularly at the local level, is important and oftentimes thankless work. There are many hours dedicated each month to preparation and gaining a complete understanding of the competing issues associated with each decision and its tentacles. Sure, some decisions elected representatives make are no-brainers.
But for every easy decision there are several issues where the decision has a variety of consequences, seen and unforeseen.
It would be easy for the city council to reduce the number of hours available to police coverage or whether the community pool should remain open. But what happens to response times for people in need calling for help, or people who want the pool open for their children or their families. It would be easy for the town board to decide the township’s roads won’t be plowed until there is, say, 5 inches of snow on the ground. Think of the taxpayer dollars the township would save? Who wouldn’t support that?
And then the phone starts to ring.
It’s easy – too easy – to criticize the decisions city councilors and township supervisors make without studying the issue. How many of the coffee shop critics have studied the various implications of the decisions? They have the right to second-guess, but hopefully studied the issue first, just like the elected representative.
Experience is a valuable commodity, as valuable as a fresh perspective. The long-timers provide institutional memory. Experience helps an elected body revisit previous mistakes. A fresh perspective can show while an idea that didn’t work 10 years ago might work now under different circumstances.
Everybody should sit on the other side of the desk at least once. While we all disagree with their decisions, their processes, from time to time, elected representatives have the right to err, for they have done what so many can’t or won’t do – they at least served.
For their service, we owe them our gratitude.

- jm