Monday, December 28, 2009

My Night at City Hall

Last Wednesday, I was interviewed by Staunton City Council at City Hall. It was a grilling session much like Jim Carey faced during the pivotal scene of The Majestic. It was rather exhilarating.

Over all, it was an educational and interesting experience, and though I lost, I'm not sorry I applied. The winner of the position was the second youngest person to apply, the nearly twice my age James Harrington. He's 59, and I'm 30. The others were all over 70, I think.

From the day he applied, I suspected James would take the seat, as he seems reasonable and rational, and he has some experience. But can I tell you what bothers me? He isn't a business owner or a businessman of any kind; he's a professor who's served on the school board. So, as a young business person, I feel underrepresented by Council. True, getting young people involved in local politics is like herding cats, and I often seem to be the youngest person at most political events around here, but there are plenty of young business people that should be represented by their local officials. Choosing a 60-year-old professor does not accomplish that, and that bothers me quite a bit.

Our City Council is pretty good. I like all of the people currently on it, and I would have liked the opportunity to work with them. James Harrington seems like a good man, and by all reports he is one. But in a city where the old guard is already so well represented and so powerful, it would have been nice if City Council would have strengthened its commitment to the generation its decisions affect more than any other by picking, well, me.

Thanks to all of you wrote to Council with your recommendations. Council was impressed by this outpouring of support. There were close to 100, and that's huge for a special appointment. I'm not sure what the next step for us is, but I'd love to hear your suggestions, and a bird told me that I'd be receiving suggestions from the Mayor himself(!). There's sure to be much more fun in 2010, friends. I hope to earn your support in the next year.

Thanks also to Council and all Stauntonians for the opportunity to embark on such a worthy adventure.

1 comment:

Reepsy said...


I appreciate you and the other candidates putting your resume forth for the open seat. If more people in our age group did so, I would imagine the makeup of the council might be more to your liking.

But to that point, why do you feel that the members of the council need to be the same age and in the same station of life in order to represent you? In regard to the appointment of Dr. Harrington you wrote "Choosing a 60-year-old professor does not accomplish that [representing young business people] and that bothers me quite a bit." I fail to see where Dr. Harrington being sixty, nor having never owned a business, precludes him from representing you (or anyone else). He was once young (despite rumors to the contrary), and did raise his family here. But even if it did disqualify him, where would that logic end? Wouldn't we need to ensure that there was always at least one black, three women, and a third of them living below the poverty line in order to keep everyone represented? And what about children?

I am joking around a bit with that last part, but I hope it makes my point. Most people who live, or who have ever lived in Staunton, are not young business owners. Likewise most of them will never graduate from college. So isn't our council particularly overqualified to represent just about everyone? Or isn't it possible that they have demonstrated the ability (and the commitment) to represent as many of us as possible? What would be the point of representational government if it were otherwise?