Monday, December 08, 2008

Lesson One- Listen to the people

As the year begins to close out, I finally have a moment or two to reflect back on the interesting year I have had.

It was a tough year, but there were many great moments that also occurred. I have learned so much and grown as an individual.

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan on sharing the things I have learned over the last year.

As most of you know, a year ago, I was collecting signatures for my own run for a political office. As the Chairwoman of the Republican Party of Kenosha County, living in a liberal city that was getting more liberal by the day, I was up against a wall of liberalism.

I felt that it was important to stop standing on the sidelines complaining and decided to do something about it. I decided to run for alderman/city council/common council- whichever one you choose to call it.

I faced a primary race that included a 14 year incumbent with name recognition that at no time ever had anyone run against him. Also on the primary ballot was a well know Democrat, which in a previous race had been thrown off the ballot based on a challenge by one of our Republican candidates in a race for state assembly.

Knowing that I was up against the wall, with only about 7 weeks to make my case to the people in my democrat leaning district before the primary vote, I had to do something that set me apart from the crowd.

I made a commitment to the folks of Kenosha’s fifth district that I would listen to them before making any kind of decision.

That seems to be the biggest complaint when it comes to local politicians, nobody is listening to them.

Of course, every single time my name was mentioned in the local newspaper, they never failed to mention that I was the chair of the Republican Party of Kenosha County and running for alderman.

I certainly did not hide from my conservative credentials. In fact, I embraced it. I cannot tell you the countless doors I knocked on where someone said to me “You are that republican, right?”

Of course, I would answer in the affirmative and then quickly proceed to explain what it was I truly believed in. I believe in getting the government to butt out of your lives, low taxes, cutting frivolous spending and protecting the services that the taxpayers pay for.

Lastly, I promised to listen to them, even if we disagreed.

Obviously it worked, I was elected.

Given a chance, people are not as partisan as we are all lead to believe. That simple commitment to listen to people, was more than some people expected out of their local government.

So, I guess the first lesson I learned is that I needed to make listening to people my first priority.

That does not mean that we always have to agree, but if we do not have enough respect for each other, even with our partisan divides, then we do not deserve to live in a country where free speech and debate is encouraged.

It was exactly this lesson that I learned that had me voting for the budget. I know that some of you are quite curious as to why I would vote for it, knowing how I felt about tax increases, even minimal ones. Well, more on that tomorrow.

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