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Public service is first and foremost

By Debbie Wise, AAC Board President, Randolph County Circuit Clerk

The elections are over and for so many successful candidates it is time to get to the peoples’ business. Once elected, it ceases to be about “you,” and partisan politics must be cast aside so we can focus on doing the best job for our counties. It’s more important than ever to be a team player because, regardless of party or position held, we make city, county, state — even national — government work.

For those taking office for the first time, the knowledge and details of your role will come. Please reach out to your more tenured colleagues in nearby counties if you have questions or challenges.

But what really matters is how and why you serve.

I truly believe public service to be a noble profession. It takes selflessness and humility to serve the public. As I sat captivated, watching the funeral services for former President George H.W. Bush in December, every speaker referred to his tireless dedication to public service and to the legacy he will leave.

For a period of time partisan politics were cast aside. Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming spoke of Bush’s decision to sign a bipartisan budget deal in 1990 that included tax increases, a move that sealed his fate as a one-term president.

Simpson said Bush would often say, “When the really tough choices come ... it’s not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s for our country that I fought for.”

The same can be said for county and district officials: “When the really tough choices come … it’s not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s for the betterment of our counties.”

So I leave you to dwell on these words: humility, integrity, leadership, courage, dignity, and honor. All of those words were used to describe Bush. We should all strive to serve as he did. And, as former President Barack Obama noted, stand as examples “to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling.”

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