Rudder defends steering
A few weeks ago, Shields Richardson, Tom Cage, Byng Hunt, and myself started a group called the Mammoth Leadership Forum. Our goal was to encourage, inspire, cajole and otherwise persuade qualified people to run for Town Council and other Town and County elective and appointive positions.
For this effort, the editor of this newspaper, “Lunch,” has excoriated us as “naïve.” As a lawyer practicing for many years, I’ve been called many things, but never, ever naïve. Of course, Ted “Lunch” Carleton is a pretty smart guy, so when he says something, time to listen. Thinking about it, I guess he’s right. If naïve means you are dumb enough to get off your duff and try to do something about what ails our town, okay Ted, call me naïve. If sophisticated means you complain bitterly about virtually everything but don’t do a d__n thing about anything, then I’m no sophisticated, worldly-wise seen-it-all guy like …
But Ted is by no means alone in his view. A number of people have lectured me that we need to screen our candidates based on their approach to the issues, not their qualifications, and this emphasis on qualifications is wishy-washy la la land. In other words, find people who think like you and the heck with the rest of it.
Well, nice, but two problems with that approach. We want to encourage everyone in town to join our group. We believe a large, inclusive group is better then a small, cliquey (is that a word?) outfit, but if we start discriminating against people who don’t think exactly the same, we will be a small group for sure. Secondly, our motivating belief is that we don’t need to find people who think alike, we need to find people who think! Get the best people in a room, let them state their differences, and then work it out. Isn’t that the way a democracy is supposed to work?
Right now, we are focusing on coming up with a list of potential candidates who might be found worthy and persuaded to run. You, yes you, the person reading this paper, can help us. Our meetings are on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at the Rafters. Come to the next meeting and give us your ideas of who should be the next Town Council candidates. You might know someone we don’t or have some insight or influence we haven’t got, but, whatever the case, we would welcome your participation.
When the day comes that we have a list of people primed and ready to run, there will be plenty of time for our group to subdivide into committees to help individual candidates. Then issues and attitudes of the candidates will come to the fore, and each group member can decide whom he/she wants to actively support. That’s not far off in the future, but first we’ve got to put together that roster of fine candidates who can revitalize Mammoth and make this place a success. Call me naïve, but if we all join together, we can make it happen!
Step up for bar bellowing
Over the last several weeks, many folks in Mammoth have shown concern for and initiated conversations about the upcoming local elections and how to stimulate new interest in the local political process. What has emerged is a strong desire to find and energize people who might help to create a new political fabric that could bring new hope and vision to a very troubled Town of Mammoth Lakes. Citizens are needed now, more than ever, to “step up” and participate in their community, whether for Town Council, Commission seats, committee appointments, coffee chats, bar bellowing, or community forums. We as concerned citizens must make it work with new creativity and vision.
As Mammoth residents, we are all entitled with citizenship rights and responsibilities. You cannot live here for any length of time and expect not to be involved in community affairs! Citizenship in this community is the single thread that connects us all by sharing values of common interest. We should all take seriously the opportunity to have a voice in how our Town is governed and operated. All citizens have a right to vote in elections for public officials and issues, and no one who is eligible should let that vote go to waste. All citizens also have a right to run for elected offices, and, if the timing is right, should offer themselves up for “public service.” All citizens have the responsibility to stay informed of the issues affecting our unique little community, and to participate in the democratic process and the changes that are needed to keep us viable. All citizens have the responsibility to respect and obey our laws and the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others. But foremost, we have the responsibility to participate in our local community affairs. Our future as a Town, and the welfare of our region, depends on us and what we do today!
With these concerns in mind, several of us formed an informal conversation group that we labeled The Mammoth Leadership Forum, whose main purpose is to simply stimulate interest in local public service. We are not talking about issues or platforms at this point in time, as that will come with future debates and the election process. Politics and issues matter enormously, and will be discussed in depth by, hopefully, a broad slate of courageous candidates next spring. I honestly do not believe that it is in any way naïve to ask my fellow citizens to “step up” and show the community the good they have to offer. Now is the time! Regardless of what you think of the American democratic process, we are compelled to work within it, and whether you vote for an Einstein or orangutang is completely up to you as a “responsible citizen” after you have heard the debates and studied the issues. I am personally looking for good people, and especially puppies that have the potential to grow into effective leaders.
Now is the time to realize your civic responsibility, and step up to our challenges! If you would like to extend this conversation, come and join us at the Rafters on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. It’s not about cocktails; it’s about our future.