COMMENTARY: Bar Set Rather Low To Run For Office
KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor
Sunday, July 18, 2010 9:02 am
During our youth its is stressed upon us by our parents and teachers the value of getting an education.
As we progress into our late adolesence we are told that in order to get a good job, we need a college education.
All that is true for the most part, but I could not help but notice the following phrase in the criteria for running for local office while doing recent stories about the positions leading up to the election:
"Any county resident over the age of 18 years who is not otherwise disqualified from holding public office (by virtue of certain criminal convictions or other legal disqualifications) may seek the office of (county executive, trustee, register of deeds, county clerk, circuit court clerk). No educational or experience requirements apply to these offices."
The part about "No educational or experience requirements apply to these offices" just seems to me that the bar is set rather low for some of the most important and highest paying jobs in the county.
If people were applying for jobs with similar responsibilities in the private sector, I'm sure a rather impressive resume would be required before a person would even be considered for these position.
The only exception is sheriff, which requires a rather lengthy list of qualifications:
"... to qualify for the office of sheriff a person must be a U.S. citizen, at least 25 years old and a qualified voter of the county; have a high school diploma or its equivalent in educational training as recognized by the Tennessee state board of education; be fingerprinted and have the Tennessee bureau of investigation (TBI) search for any criminal record; be certified by a qualified professional to be free of all apparent mental disorders; and possess a current and valid peace officer certification as issued by the Tennessee POST commission. In addition, the candidate also must not have been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a felony or certain other listed offenses, and must not have been discharged, released, or separated from the armed forces with a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or as a consequence of conviction at court martial. Any person seeking the office of sheriff must, 14 days prior to the qualifying deadline, file an affidavit with the POST commission affirming that the candidate meets these requirements and a confirmation of psychological evaluation form certified by the professional who performed the evaluation before being eligible to be on the ballot for election."
Can't SAVE The Dismay Any Longer
I've been around long enough to know that no matter how much someone has, there are those who will always want more.
That seems to be especially true when it comes to people who depend on the government -- i.e. taxpayers -- for all or a portion of their income.
When the Cannon County Commission gave its stamp of approval to the county's budget for the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 Saturday, there were undoubtedly many people who were not happy. That is usually the case, in good economic times and bad.
This year, due in large part to the continuing struggles of both the national and state economies, there was less money to go around than many had hoped for or were counting on. County tax revenues were down in some areas, and expenses up in others.
In the end the county had to take money from its reserve fund for the second year in a row to balance the budget, which it must do by law. If there is not a dramatic change to the economic situation during the next 12 months, the picture will be even bleaker next year as the reserves are slowly but surely being tapped out.
I'm sure that many people running for county offices in this year's General Election are doing so with the idea of getting a slice of the county's revenue pie. They either want it in salaries, through appropriations, or so they can direct it to a person, agency or business which performs services for the county.
I'm also sure there are people running for office because they have a genuine desire to serve the public, rather than because they want the taxpayers to serve them — money.
The battles over money during the budget committee meetings leading to the formation of the budget were quite interesting. Some people understood that times were lean and they probably would not get all they wanted. Others knew the situation but complained nonetheless.
Since I don't work for the county, I am of course not as disappointed as those who do that county employees are not receiving a raise for the third straight year. I also don't avail myself of the services offered by non-governmental agencies such as the Senior Center and REACH, so the fact they are suffering funding issues isn't at the top of my list of concerns.
However, I am rather bothered by the lack of support from the county and Town of Woodbury for the Cannon County SAVE program. Perhaps they are doing the best they can, but I really wish they could do more. I see the number of cases they have to deal with each week in the police reports. I know local domestic violence victims are in dire need of the services SAVE offers.
I also know the problem of domestic violence will never go away. However, the more resources SAVE has at its disposal, the better the chance that the number of cases can either be lessened, or brought under control.