Who can afford to do this job?
September 1, 2008
Every time local elected officials talk about pay raises for their own positions, the same few statements are made, usually sanctimoniously.
The electeds say things like, “We’re here to serve; it’s a privilege; we shouldn’t …” and “In the current economic climate …” and “I didn’t get elected to …” Then the designated local curmudgeon writes an editor letter saying, “These people are a bunch of self-serving fools; they don’t deserve …”
None of these statements inform this issue. But this one does: Current salaries are so low that the number of excellent people who can simply afford to take the requisite time to do the job is very low and shrinking. And I’m not talking about the stress and aggravation. That’s extra. I’m just talking affording to spend the time.
This statement is not an abstraction. Rather it’s garnered from many years of approaching many good people to run for office. The vast majority say they can’t afford it. And the worst way to think about this issue is whether you like current elected officials; they’ll soon be gone. You might instead think about who you’d like to see elected and whether they can afford it. For instance, can you?
So, if you want qualified working people in elected office, then tell City Council to raise their pay.
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