From the Mayor 12/14/16

Reprinted with Permission of the Independence Daily Reporter

Independence will be getting a new mayor in a few short weeks.

While many Indy residents will consider this fantastically good news (including my wife), I will hate giving up the position. It has been a tremendous honor serving as your mayor.

Each year, the three commissioners decide which commissioner will serve as mayor, and for many years it has been the practice to simply take turns. Assuming we follow that tradition, it will be Fred Meier’s turn to serve as mayor for 2017, since Leonhard Caflisch was mayor last year. I have absolutely no doubt that Fred will do a fantastic job, as he did during his previous term as mayor.

But much more important than choosing who will be the mayor is the election coming up next year.

I know that everyone is tired of hearing about political elections - at least I am. However, both Fred and Leonhard’s current terms will end next year. (You’re stuck with me for a couple more years, as they were both elected two years before I was.) I have no idea if either Fred or Leonhard are considering running for another term, since I’m not allowed to talk to them about it. Maybe you could ask them and let me know?

But whether Leonhard and Fred decide to run or not, two of the three commissioner positions are “up for grabs” next year.

Why mention this now, when the filing period to run for those positions is still six months away?

Because I believe this is one of the most important decisions that we as a city get to make. More important to the future of Independence than our choice of senator. Or the election of our governor. Even more important than the presidential election. This choice directly and significantly affects Independence every day, for many years to come.

Have you considered running for city commission? And if not, why not?

A woman stopped me on the sidewalk recently and said, “Thanks for your efforts, you done good.” While I very much appreciate her kind comment, “done good” is just not good enough. Independence deserves great.

It takes many years for a city to grow into greatness, and a city can never be great without a long line of great leaders. Luckily, we have countless great people in Independence, and many of them would make great leaders for the community.

Please consider whether you might be one of those great leaders.

The job pays nothing. And it’s not easy. And despite your best efforts, you will almost certainly have people saying in the newspapers and on social media that you are a moron, or a criminal. Or that it’s criminal that you are such a moron. And it’s their right to do so, even when there’s no truth to their accusation.

In my opinion, the most important skill you need is the ability to keep an open mind until you have all the facts, and then the courage to move forward with the best decision you can.

It may sound simple, but it’s not easy. My wife is often asked by her patients for help in losing weight, and she says almost the same thing, “It’s simple but not easy. Eat only healthy foods and get more exercise.” Incredibly simple but incredibly difficult.

If you have any interest whatsoever in serving on city commission, now is the time to begin your research. Talk to any of the current commissioners, or any past commissioners; Terry Hugo, Tim White, Rick Mott, Phillip Chappuie, and Jim Kelley come immediately to mind but there are probably others. Another great step is to attend some city commission meetings. This will give you the best feel for how things work and whether you can make a difference.

Or, if you’re not interested in serving on city commission yourself, but know someone who would be great, please begin recruiting that person!

There’s no doubt that Independence can be a great city, but in order to be great we simply must have consistently great leadership.

Mayor Gary Hogsett