One of the realities of leaving The News-Times is that, for the first time in 16 years, my opinion no longer will be louder than anyone else’s during the next elections.
My opinion has never been more valid that anyone’s; I merely had a bigger platform for presenting it, and generally readers accepted its credibility. That’s been quite gratifying, and I’ve felt like I played at least a small role in helping to shape this county’s direction.
But as I was chatting the other day to one of the potential candidates in next year’s many races, it occurred to me that unlike previous years, I won’t expect candidates to pay courtesy visits in hopes of winning my support.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if some of them didn’t still ask for advice, and I’d highly recommend it – not because I’m particularly brimming with great wisdom, but simply because I’ve been around long enough, and seen enough candidates come and go, that they might find value in my observations.
In any event, for any person considering running for election in Columbia County, here are four words of advice:
Don’t screw it up.
If you’re a congressional candidate, you’re expected to bash the entity you want to join. It makes sense; the nation recognizes Congress is a train wreck, and voters claim they want the tracks cleared (even if they keep re-electing their own Candidate Caboose).
But Columbia County isn’t a train wreck. Our county government isn’t dysfunctional or bloated. Sure, there are minor things to quibble about – I’m still irritated that taxpayers provide coffee for bureaucrats. But the vision of a clean, safe, vibrant community is growing and thriving here; that’s the big picture.
There are two ways to campaign in that environment: “This county is good, and I want to work to help make it better”; or, “This county is broken, and you need me to fix it for you.”
I’ll support the former. I’ll help in whatever way I still can to keep the latter away from local office.
Those who want to build and improve on Columbia County’s strong foundation deserve your support. Those who want you to think there’s massive, systemic problems in need of their unique expertise to ferret it out are just charlatans selling snake oil or warning you about monsters under your bed. They deserve to be ridden out of town on a rail. Or openly ridiculed.
I won’t be around to remind everyone, so it’s up to you, voters: Spread the word next year – don’t screw it up.
The future of your community demands it.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-868-1222, ext. 106. Follow at www.twitter.com/