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City Life: What a candidate needs

July 19, 2010|By Steve Smith

With the start of the local campaign season, it is a good time to review the qualifications of the ideal candidate.

The ideal candidate knows a good idea when he or she sees one. That good idea can come from anyone at anytime. If the idea comes from someone with whom the candidate has had past differences, the candidate becomes a champion of the idea anyway.

The candidate looks at each paper clip in City Hall or the school district office as money. Copy paper is money. The desks, lamps, pens and pencils are money, too. To the candidate, each police car, school bus, telephone and scratch pad is money. That money was given, sometimes begrudgingly, by taxpayers who worked hard for it. In return, they want a representative who acknowledges their hard work and treats each of the above items with the respect they deserve.

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The candidate understands that without taxpayer dollars hundreds of people who work for the city or the school district would not have jobs. The ideal candidate knows, accordingly, that the taxpayer covers the salaries of all of these people and that the taxpayer is boss.

The candidate knows that when a taxpayer is unhappy, the taxpayer is not a nuisance or someone to be avoided, but someone to be reckoned with.

The candidate keeps his or her mouth shut unless he or she has something substantive to say. The candidate does not, for example, call a press conference, as Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor did last month, and waste taxpayer dollars to say something he could have said in two minutes during the City Council meeting. The candidate does not, as Costa Mesa City Councilwoman Katrina Foley did on June 22, admonish her colleagues over their lack of revenue-generating ideas, then fail to offer any of her own.

The candidate is a person of business, preferably someone who owns or has owned a business. The candidate is somewhat less ideal if he or she has only managed a business. That person has had not had the experience of real financial risk in the decision-making process.

The candidate obeys the spirit and the letter of the Brown Act, which requires the public's business to be conducted before the public, and has never had a hint of violating it.

The candidate does not think in terms of "Us vs. Them," only in terms of what is best for the community.

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