The first time I heard the term 'Servant Leadership' was at a Leadership Development Camp hosted by Lake Lundgren Bible Camp up near Pembine, WI. At first, it seems like an oxymoron. How can somebody who is leading simultaneously be a servant? The key here lies within the focus of that leadership—an official who uses his or her position to work toward bettering the lives of others is serving them by putting others first. Service-oriented leaders achieve and execute the prerogatives of their position not for self-gain or aggrandizing, but to pull others up with them.
The value of servant leadership fits as well into politics as any industry. Politicians are brought into office by their electorate with the understanding that they are chosen to represent the people. The best officials respond to the honor of being selected among their peers by working as hard as they can to pursue the interests of those voters. It is imperative that office holders approach every day from the perspective of service.
Two seasoned politicians are participating in a gubernatorial debate. As things begin to get tense, the first gentlemen yells, "You're lying!". The second takes a short pause and flashes a sincere smile before replying, "Of course, but that aside...hear me out".
This anecdote always gives me a good laugh, but it also shows what people think about the average politician. I would be hard pressed to say they're wrong. Too often during campaign season, candidates say what their voters want to hear and then once elected, transform into a different person. Some officials may tell 'un-truths' sporadically to cover up transgressions or to paint ulterior motives in a more positive light. I believe that honesty is the single most important characteristic in any relationship including that between politicians and their fellow citizens. Regardless of if it is the easiest or most expedient option at any time, being truthful should be considered the standard, not a refreshing change of pace. I will always strive to live up to that both on the campaign trail and in office.
Transparency in politics goes hand in hand with trust. Officials should be willing to share their views and what they are working on with their constituents, especially when asked. Simply dodging questions, whether from apathy or the desire to cover something up, is not conducive to a good relationship between officials and constituents. There will be times where the sensitive nature of an issue requires details to be considered privileged information, but the general day to day happenings in your government should be easily ascertained.
As candidates, I and others running for office are asking you to trust us enough to choose us to represent you and make decisions on your behalf. Residents should always be kept as part of that process and that can be accomplished through transparency.
As an Alderman, my job will be to represent the interests of my neighbors and work toward the further betterment of our city. In order to fully accomplish the first, Alderpersons need to know what the interests of their district are. Responsive representation means actively engaging in a consistent dialogue with those who elected you. It's the different between glancing at emails every once and a while and reaching out and really listening when people want to give their opinions. Beyond just listening, it's having an actual conversation so that everybody is on the same page. Sheboygan citizens come from many different background and perspectives and each and every one of you deserve to be heard.
Naturally, individuals who hold part-time offices may have other professional and personal commitments in their lives that keep them from answering the phone every time it rings. Acknowledging these realities of everyday life, my adherence to responsive representation will show by prioritizing getting back to people and making sure that conversation still happens with as little delay as possible. We may not always agree on every issue, but I can promise that I will always listen to you and put in my best effort to understand.
I grew up in Sheboygan and wouldn't change that for the world. From St. Dominic through North High, I had the opportunity to grow up and learn in our city. We have a great location here on the lake with fantastic stores and businesses to satisfy most any need. When I was younger, nobody would second guess third-grade me walking to school or a fourth-grader leaving with friends to go trick-or-treating. Some things certainly have changed, but I believe Sheboygan can be a place that families want to raise their children, graduates prioritize moving to, and that those at the end of their careers anticipate retiring in.
Sheboygan's roads need fixing. In my discussions with residents, I've found that that is as well of a known fact as water being wet. The city needs to continue to look into every option possible to fund and expedite road repairs while congruently keeping up with maintenance. Plans made to address our road situation should consider avoiding tax hikes a priority. The best outcome would be Sheboygan rectifying existing road problems and subsequently enacting a comprehensive and efficient maintenance schedule designed to keep our roads smooth and pothole free into the far future.
A government is innately responsible for acting as a fiduciary for the funds it collects. Cities accrue a majority of their money through taxes and fees. That means that when a city spends money, indirectly, residents' money is being spent. Government plays an important role in our lives and as great as it would be to say we should pay absolutely no taxes, they are necessary for a well-operating government. Services such as fire response, police, and schools are keys to the structure and safety of a community, for example. By spending efficiently and responsibly, governments should reduce the amount of money they need to take in, leaving more money in your pocket. Basic questions such as "Is this necessary?" and "Does a non-government solution for this service exist? Can it?" should serve as initial barriers to any spending of taxpayer money.
Private development, both for commercial and personal use, is part of the lifeblood in a growing municipality. Every new apartment building, office park, and small store and business contributes to that growth in its own way. They can provide places for new residents to live, new businesses to move, and all of the unique amenities that make our city special. Of course, the more property we have developed and businesses operating, the larger the city's tax base becomes. In the long run, that should mean reducing individual tax burdens—something I will always support.
TIF districts are often touted as a way to catalyze local growth efforts. By allowing developers within the district to reinvest a portion of their taxes, tax increment financing does act as an inducement. Those taxes that go back to the TID are used to offset the costs of developing the area. The extra tax money that gets redirected to developers will not be available for essential city functions, even in cases where occupants of the district add to the costs. Keeping that in mind, TIF designation should be used only the 'but for' test is passed. The test asks whether or not a suitable amount of development would occur without the designation. If proper development is possible without giving what is basically a tax credit, it would be responsible to avoid creating a TIF district so that any increase in taxes levied can be allocated toward vital city functions.