Keeping local public service free of political partisanship is a very real challenge. Here in Denton that challenge will intensify in the months ahead as our regular spring municipal elections have been rescheduled for the upcoming November 3rd general election. We will be electing our city council representatives on the same day and on the same ballot that we will be electing a President. In these months ahead our community will be challenged to choose localism over partisanship even as we are inundated with the well-funded warlike partisan rhetoric that dominates our national news and social media feeds.
Denton’s City Council is intentionally designed to be non-partisan so that the focus of those holding the office is on serving our entire community (all of us), and not a political party (us vs. them). We have a natural tendency to project party affiliations or political ideology onto our local candidates and office holders. In some cases those party affiliations and ideologies are embraced by the office holder. However, once a council member chooses to prioritize the real work of serving our entire community, those party affiliations and ideologies fail to hold up. The Elephant and the Donkey have nothing to do with getting a sidewalk built so our students can get to and from their schools safely.
The experience of serving fellow citizens – locally – has made a profound and humbling impact on me. I have worked alongside several different council members over my three terms on Denton’s city council. Although we may not always agree, the best of us put ego aside and are dedicated to service above self and work tirelessly to make the best decisions we can on behalf of our entire community. We recognize that the gridlock of partisan politics and national issues fail us at the local level where we need positive and pragmatic action.
We should choose localism over partisanship because that is how we expand our capacity to make positive impacts. We should choose localism over partisanship because that is the only way for our community to coordinate the power of our government, citizens, businesses, service organizations, universities, churches, and philanthropic organizations to tackle the apolitical challenges and opportunities facing our rapidly growing community.
This type of servant-leadership requires compassion, humility, and the strength to build bridges that connect all of us. In my time of public service and active volunteerism that type of servant leadership has remained my focus. Seeing that same mindset in so many of our neighbors across Denton is what gives me the hope, motivation, and strength to serve. It is this very spirit that binds me to this wonderful community.
As we enter into the final stretch of what promises to be a historically divisive national election season I challenge you, my neighbors in this shared community, to make it your business to decide if the divisiveness of partisan politics will drive an unnecessary wedge between us on local issues. I challenge you to make it your business to rise above national rhetoric and put our community first and foremost in your decision.