Many candidates running in next week’s primary speak about the importance of having business experience to be an effective leader in local, state or federal government. Certainly, experience in managing a business is valuable preparation for a leadership position. However, being effective in government requires a very different set of skills.
In business, you strive to deliver a product to your customers and make a profit. In elected office, you must represent all your constituents and their widely varied interests — even when they differ from your own. Ability to listen and evaluate constituent concerns, examine broader issues, present well-reasoned arguments, find elusive middle ground and ultimately reach consensus are essential skills for an elected official. This is what we should be looking for in candidates. Show us how you have demonstrated these skills and abilities by being of service to the community. Jumping in with largely business credentials is not adequate preparation to serve.
Let’s all be mindful of what really matters as we cast our votes. Voters should be wary of those who say they would run the government the way they run a business. These candidates may not be well prepared to meet the challenges of governing.