Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Trial by Fire

I have debated continuing my blog. It may sound silly, but I have been concerned about the fact that things that I say in this public spot can reflect back on my friends, family or even the city. But I have decided that I would rather put it out there, have people call me out if I am out of line and continue to allow myself a way to reflect and process my life. I have always been forthcoming with opinions and information about my life and I figure there is no reason to change that. So here it goes...

Back in January, I started my tenure as a city council member for the city of Tonganoxie. I was appointed to fill a spot vacated by a gentleman who is now our county commissioner. It came at a perfect time as I have spent the last year trying to sort out exactly what needs to be in an out of my life and I have cut waaaaaaaaaaay back on my activities and involvement. Plus, I have always wanted to get involved in either the school board or city council and this way I didn't have to actually campaign. I was able to just slide on in (with approval of the current council, mayor and staff of course - I mean they don't just let ANYBODY run this place;)). Which is good for me, because as a friend pointed out "you would have a really hard time getting elected in this town - you are way to outspoken". I am not sure whether that is a compliment or not, but it is a true statement. I very rarely allow a subject or topic to go quietly by...especially if I feel there is injustice or misinformation or misunderstanding surrounding whatever subject is being discussed. I feel compelled to set the record straight or disseminate information. I am often very passionate about getting my point across. I want to know ALL of the facts and I want everyone else to know them, too. I don't care if you come to the same conclusion I do on any particular topic, but I need to be able to see the logic of how you got there. I want to discuss your viewpoint and my viewpoint and I want us to be kind and respectful to each other when we do that. I want to avoid name-calling and flame throwing and insult hurling. Yeah...after typing that, I am thinking maybe I am not cut out for politics;).

Anyway...

The first big topic of my time on the council has been the installation of a traffic signal. Without boring anyone with all of the details (my poor family and friends can tell you that there are lots of details and that I have not spared many of them in my passion over the last few months), I will say that it has been a down-and-dirty intro to the world of council-dom. We finally voted on the issue last night (after many, many meetings and discussions and public forums) and I am happy that we made some forward progress. That being said, I woke up this morning feeling really, really sad about the whole thing. And I feel a much deeper sympathy for our elected officials who have to do this on a higher level day in and day out. I am not uncomfortable with the decision we made, but I am disappointed in the way it all went down. Let me preface the next statements with this - I am extremely excited that so many people got involved in the process. It sure beats the apathy that is prevalent surrounding most things political. And there were many people who were perfectly lovely during the process. The vast majority of people, as a matter of fact. But as in most cases, the negative things are the ones that get the air and ear time. There have been months of misinformation and accusations and name-calling. The council was accused of disregarding the safety of the citizens, not thinking things through and of being "out to get" businesses. I can assure you that none of these things are true. All of the members of the council and the mayor and city staff have reviewed and negotiated and pondered and listened. I have spent time meeting with people, fielding calls and emails and trying to get the information and facts out there. I know my fellow council members, the mayor, city staff and KDOT have done the same thing.We may not have all agreed all of the time, but I know that everyone has been working hard to try to determine what is best for our town.

I have been told many, many times not to take any of the comments personally. Not to wear my heart on my sleeve. And I try not to. But it is really, really hard. I take very seriously and honor the position I hold. I thoroughly research and collect data so I can make fact-based decisions. I remove my emotion from the process so I make sure I am seeing things through an unclouded lens. That I do not think things through or don't care about the people of Tonganoxie is an inaccurate statement. Those are fighting words. Does it matter that people accuse me of these things? No. But it does make me realize that I need to work really, really hard to make sure that I do not make others feel this way. That I respect opinions and personalities and try to always be rational and kind. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if we all did that?

That sounds a little Pollyanna-ish. Probably a good indicator that I need to grow a thicker skin if I am going to keep doing this politics thing. But it is my sincere hope that kindness, respect and rational discourse have a place in this city and in politics. I am going to do everything I can to make sure I do my part to help that happen.


7 comments:

Debi said...

Oh Kara, this post just made me have all the feelz! I'm proud of you, awed by you, and very much sad for you. I do not for one second think it's Pollyanna of you at all!!!! I think it's human of you!!!! And the shame of it all is that while I suspect 95% of people agree with your sentiments, it's the other 5% that steal garner the limelight. I don't want you to grow a thicker skin, Kara, though you may have to. What I want is for you not to need to!!! *HUGS HUGS HUGS*

Jean said...

While I have never done anything as "high profile" as town or city councilor, I can relate to your comments about needing a thicker skin. Kindness, respect, and rational discourse should be the rule not the exception. My kids may have the best explanation if a bit oversimplified: People are (or, as I prefer to think, can be) idiots. Hang in there!!!

Amanda said...

Kara--As one of the people that you "bored" with the down and dirty details of this first process, I want the citizens of our community to know that you did your homework--researched and looked at all sides of the issue. In my mind, that makes you a great city council person because of your perseverance though this process. Keep up the good work!

Tabatha said...

I think you researched the situation exhaustively. I think you did a great job respecting other people's opinions (like mine: no lights at all-boo lights)! What I like the most is that you want to hear all viewpoints without making a judgement. Judgement comes first so much of the time that we are blinded to other opinions. Keep blogging. I'll read yours if you read mine. http://www.perimeterveterinarycenter.com/storm-phobia-in-dogs/

kreed said...

I think this must be exactly why I blog...all of the lovely comments make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! Thank you so much dear and lovely ladies - you provided just the shot in the arm I needed to feel better about all of this.

Anslem said...

Nice post

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