Sunday, March 12, 2017

Buckhorn passes on Tallahassee - Would you run for political office?

It used to be that running for office, any public office, was a significant calling in one's life.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

I noted with interest Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's decision not to run for Governor. Mayor Buckhorn cited some of the usual reasons, family, especially early teen kids, and a desire to finish some of what he has started in Tampa.

Mayor Buckhorn's formal statement see:

It used to be that running for office, any public office, was a significant calling in one's life. A challenge to be sure but just the experience was worth the effort.

These days I am not sure that is the case. Today running for any public office puts one's family, career and reputation at risk. There used to be honor surrounding political candidacy it is all but completely gone.

Part of it is driven by a media with an insatiable appetite for ugliness, and a huge amount of airtime and white space to fill.

It is tough to get to the station in life where you feel compelled to enter public service without some baggage along the way. The thought that all about a person could suddenly, and perhaps in a biased or less than a truthful way become public is enough to make anyone have second thoughts.

Some will be quick to blame President Trump for pushing political campaigning all the way to the bottom of the barrel. He did and I still voted for him. However, the fact of the matter is political candidacy; campaigning and political service have been on a slow downward slide for a long time.

In the past, the "family" excuse was just that an excuse, today it is a real concern. Would you want to subject your wife or husband and young children to the scrutiny that a political campaign could bring into your life?

I cannot even tell you the number of office holders or potential candidates I have asked if they are going to run for this or that office only to be told something to the effect, "I have to think about my family."

More and more I think people are quietly saying no and filling their desire to serve and give back in other areas such as church, non-profits and social service.

Fortunately, there are still those who will step up and offer their service to their fellow citizens. For them, we should all be grateful.

In addition to the Governor's race, we have a number of local offices in Florida Counties and Cities that need good candidates. Term limits in Florida have created opportunities for people to run in races where there is no incumbent, significantly leveling the political playing field.

We need good candidates to come forward, and I for one know it is a big decision. The only advice I can offer follow  your heart.

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