A while back I saw a photo of a framed certificate on Steve Terrell's Legislature Blog. I could not believe what it said. I hope Steve does not mind my borrowing his photo.
I was shocked and dismayed by what I read. A phone call I received today reminded me of this photo and reminded me that I always wanted to comment on this.
This statement is exactly what is wrong with the public perception of politics today. There are many politicians who do not make a lot of money and who do not use their position to further their financial situation. In Santa Fe, the Mayor, City Councilors, Commissioners and State Legislators make little money for their positions. Unfortunately this often means that only the independently wealthy and retired persons can run for office. Your everyday man can hardly afford the time and money required to run for office and attend all the meetings, fundraisers, non-profit functions and other functions you must attend to obtain and keep office. That's not to say that we don't have some "everyday men and women" who successfully run for and keep themselves in office. It is just not easy for those.
When I ran for Sheriff I spent in excess of $40,000 to do so. It was only due to the generosity of many and people who really believed in me who raised money through raffles, garage sales, dances etc. Now I am considering a run for a Statewide office. Some have told me I must raise $250,000 to run for this office. Wow, a quarter of a million dollars to run for an office that does not pay half of that per year. The only way to raise that money is to accept donations from people who you don't know personally. You have to believe that their intentions are honest and they only want to help a good person do good in a political office. You have to make sure they understand they are not buying influence and that you will treat all citizens equally and that you will be accessible to all equally. Yet you know that the media, your opponents and their political party will try to tell the public otherwise. You must have a thick skin but even alligators get cut.
I am assuming that Steve Terrell snapped the above listed photo in a politicians office. I hope I am wrong because I would never display such a plaque in my office. I have always believed that a politician should not have to be rich or take a vow of poverty to be in office. Unfortunately our current system promotes those factors. Locally our Mayor, Councilors and County Commissioners really are working full time to do the peoples work, unfortunately they get paid at a less than full time rate. Someday as part of campaign finance reforms and other reforms we must seriously look at paying at least market rates for the politicians and the work that they do. I am sure someday some other politician or party is going to throw that statement back at me but the truth is the truth, and we as citizens must realize that sometimes you get what you pay for. Of course as I stated earlier their are a lot of really good politicians making do and running on heart and a desire to do good.