Will they be around after the election?
June 23, 2014
by Ivan Raconteur

I suspect that being a newspaper editor in an election year is a bit like being the only female server in a harborside bar when the fleet comes in.

To put it another way, it is like being a barista at an all-day audit report meeting.

The point I am trying to convey is that we get a lot of attention from people we might not otherwise encounter.

Many of those from whom we receive this attention are candidates for elective office.

Each election season, my mailbox is flooded with press releases, announcements about appearances, and requests for meetings.

As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t believe these requests for meetings with editors have anything to do with our sparkling personalities.

Neither are they direct attempts to secure our votes. Each editor has one vote, just like every other citizen (although these candidates would doubtless welcome our votes).

The reason we get the attention is that we have what is known in the business as reach. We have access to a lot of people in our communities – people who are potential voters.

I am always faintly surprised at how attentive these candidates are, especially the new ones and those who are not currently in office.

They seem very eager to listen. They ask questions and attempt to learn about local issues.

There are, of course, some who are only interested in preaching their own message, and spewing party rhetoric.

These candidates aren’t especially interesting.

Many candidates, though, seem to take a genuine interest in serving their potential constituents.

Some candidates exhibit boundless energy, and invest a lot of time traveling countless miles and attending numerous events to meet people.

This can all be very pleasant, and, sometimes, if my schedule permits it, I actually enjoy these little conferences. Meeting new people can be fascinating.

What I would really like to see, however, is candidates who continue this level of engagement after they are elected.

Sadly, some people are extremely enthusiastic during their campaigns, but as soon as they are elected, they disappear like conjurers until the next election season.

This seems especially true in the rural areas and smaller communities.

I am sometimes amazed that candidates can even find these places, since so much attention is focused on the metro area.

We would all be much better off if elected officials showed the same enthusiasm after the election as before.

I am not talking about courting the favor of newspaper editors. I am suggesting elected officials should listen to their constituents and be responsive to their needs.

In order to do this, they need to spend some time in the area they represent, rather than planning their next step up the political ladder.

Some politicians say they are carrying out the priorities of their constituents. The question is, how do they know what those priorities are if they never interact with their constituents?

If more elected officials kept up their level of engagement after they were elected, and paid attention to constituents, instead of lobbyists and political party handlers, there would be less gridlock and more action in government.

It’s nice to be visited by candidates. It is even nicer to be visited by elected officials who still remember their constituents after the ballots have been cast.

Advertise in over
250+ MN newspapers