Executive Director's Corner
Your Voice - Your Choice
AN AMERICAN PROVERB holds that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” meaning that those who complain the loudest, or those problems which garner the most attention, are likely to be addressed first. But in our current political discourse, where it seems that substantive debate has been replaced by political invective, we might do well to consider the words of the father of Desmund Tutu, Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who said “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.”
In order for ACCG to have the best legislative policy positions and arguments on the wide range of issues affecting and/or confronting counties, the voice of county-elected and appointed of ficials is required! Notwithstanding that ACCG’s legislative team does outstanding work for counties, it is the voice of county officials which matters most.
How can you make your voice heard? Join an ACCG policy committee. Attend ACCG conferences and Fall District meetings. Develop relationships with your members of the Georgia General Assembly. Without exception you should be on a first-name basis with your state representative(s) and senator(s). Have immediate access to their cell phone numbers. Converse with them frequently, not just during each year’s legislative session. Help them understand the issues affecting your county. Succinctly stated, get involved!
It is also vital that you pay attention to issues beyond your county borders. While the first allegiance of a county commissioner is to their constituents, failure to understand and respond to the larger political dynamic at the state and federal level could result in untenable consequences for your county and the very constituents you’ve committed to serve. Therefore, even as your loyalty remains local, your mind must engage more broadly the wider spectrum of issues.
Though most of ACCG’s legislative policy work is geared toward the Georgia General Assembly, we also focus on national issues through our Federal Policy Commit tee and in concert with our relationship to and participation in the events of the National Association of Counties (NACo). If your county is not a member of NACo, I encourage you to advocate for joining today!
What is the cost of not being actively engaged and involved? The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” Incumbent commissioners and those who aspire to public office presumably are engaged in “improving the argument” through the political process, helping to ensure that our communities are, in fact, governed by those who have the superior argument on issues.
Isaiah Hughley, manager of the Columbus Consolidated Government, once told me that his pastor, Rev. Raymond Cochran of Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City, Alabama, said, “You can’t do today’s work with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.” In the political context, local government of ficials cannot continually rely upon yesterday’s success, expecting it to produce the same results in our ever changing, evermore complex system of governance. Only by being thoroughly engaged in your county, in your Georgia county association that is ACCG, and at the state and federal level, can you maximize your contribution to public service and, hence, your constituents!
The benefits of your service, exercised as described, will be incalculable. It is your voice and your choice! Improve your argument!