The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why I Won't Be Running For City Council

A number of people have been encouraging me to run for city council. Until Monday, I was ready to – for the third time – take out my petitions and start knocking on the many doors in Ward 3, in an effort to find a way to serve my community.

I won't be doing that. And, I can assure you the good ol' boys at city hall will be dancing when they hear the news.

Apparently, members of the council are upset enough at Ward 2 Alderman Sam Kooiker to create a resolution of censure for – as far as I can tell – listening to constituents, responding to their concerns and then asking questions and expecting answers of city officials.

If they don't like the way Alderman Kooiker asks questions, I can assure they would hate the way I ask questions.

But Alderman Kooiker is a younger man than I am. He is 500 percent more diplomatic than I am. He has a fire in his belly and he will weather the current storm he now faces. He is blessed with a strong family who will honor him by telling him to do what he must.

I'm too old to be told I'm not allowed to ask questions of public officials and city employees. I'm too old to be told I cannot talk to city employees or any other person. I'm too old to buy into the notion that face-to-face interaction that leaves no record is better than memorializing the work city aldermen do in e-mails or any other form.

I'm too much of a cynic to believe whatever some official tells me is gospel on its face. As a journalist, I caught too many public officials in outright lies to not be suspicious of all of them. I've known Mr. Kooiker for some time now, and I'm having difficulty believing the censure is much other than a smear campaign by people who want to encourage him to not run for re-election. But, I'll have the 110 pages of e-mails tomorrow and we'll see.

The recent actions of the city council have accomplished sending a chill over any person who has a desire to serve this city. I have no desire to be publicly reprimanded, have my good name smeared, have my friends and family embarrassed to be associated with me and be generally humiliated, all for trying to do what is best for our town. As much as I love Rapid City – the price for serving it – effective last Monday night, is just too high for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you run, I'll send you a campaign donation (I'll reference this posting when I send the check). Alderman Kooiker needs help fighting back room deals.