What does it take to be a public servant?

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The election this year is truly a historic one, nationally and locally. As we all know, we’ll elect a new president and, for the first time in the history of Suffolk, a new mayor who is elected directly by Suffolk voters.

As we get closer to Nov. 4, we have an important decision to make. Who do you think is the best to lead us come January 2009? Will it be Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain?

Speaking of Suffolk, on the other hand, who will our mayor be?


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Now, here’s my personal perspective on what it takes to be a public servant. If you’re a public servant, you’re prone to scrutiny by the public and the media. That’s the price you have to pay. Your actions and decisions are being analyzed and, at times, criticized. Your critics and detractors are always on constant watch. They’re critical in every move you make and every action you take.

As a public servant, you are accountable for all your actions. You are responsible to your constituents who supported you, financially or otherwise, and the whole populace, who look up to you for leadership, honesty, and integrity.

Leadership and transparency are two of the important qualities I’m looking for in a public servant. Without these characteristics, such public servant ceases to be one. He or she leads by example. What he or she preaches, he or she practices.

A public servant is a public trust. I want a public servant who is trustworthy; who can genuinely serves the public and not the other way around, that is, to be served by his/her constituents. If he or she has a conflict of interest in serving his or her people, then, he or she should have no business governing or leading the people. As I’ve mentioned, he or she should put his or her own welfare aside for the public’s welfare.

As they say, you cannot serve two masters at the same time. Where lies your interest? Your own personal business or the people’s business? If your interest is not in the welfare of the people who elected you, then you have no business working in the government. Make way for someone or somebody who is truly and sincerely a servant of the people and not the one being served. After all, you are a public servant whose primary duty is to serve the public, the people in the community who look up to you for your excellent or outstanding public service. Then and only then will you be known as a leader who inspires, who motivates, who listens, who leads by example, and who leads us to progress, prosperity and success.

Politicians take heed: You volunteered to serve the public or the government. Therefore, you are obligated to serve in the best interest of the people whom you govern and lead. You are not in the office to make yourselves rich at the expense of your constituents. Don’t let your people down and don’t disappoint them. If you do, and become corrupt or ineffective and unresponsive to their needs, you lost their trust and respect. They will find ways and means by which you will be removed from your office or post. Don’t ever think that because you’re powerful, you can’t be replaced. There are a lot of people out there who are watching you and monitoring your intentions, dealings and movements, with the advancement of technology. Be aware that, as I’ve mentioned earlier, you’re under public scrutiny all the time! The electorate is not that dumb. Your character speaks of you. So, are you ready to serve us, to lead us the way to a more progressive community, to govern us in a manner that exemplifies the true public service, in the real sense of the word? Are you ready to listen, to go out personally and feel the pulse of the community? Are you ready to sacrifice your time, talent, and treasure where needed?