Holinger: Let’s be less cynical about those who step up

Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Like most of you, I’ll never run for elected office, be it local, national or family (I didn’t campaign, but was voted family dishwasher, garbage remover and birdfeeder filler).

That’s the problem. So few people run for local offices that in November many candidates got a Get-Out-of-Campaigning-Free card. Talk about an easy win when the only person to defeat is Nobody.

“My record on accessibility, transparency and taxes beats Nobody’s,” the stump speech begins. “And when it comes to voting one’s conscience, instead of giving into committee or mayoral pressure on issues like who can serve as alderman, my record beats Nobody’s. And when I don’t get my way and use inappropriate language, it’s Nobody’s fault. In conclusion, Nobody is less distinguished and less worthy than I.”

See how easy it is?

So here’s what I don’t get. When Jay Moffat volunteered not only to serve on one local board, but multiple, why did some Geneva Muggles act like he was Voldemort? Did they think if elected to both the library and park district boards he’d pick his favorite and say “Sayonara” to the other?

On first hearing that he wanted to serve on multiple city boards in a volunteer, uncompensated capacity, I thought, “Why not? If I have multiple piles of mulch to spread on different days in different driveways, heck, if someone shows up with a shovel willing to pitch in, I’ll say, ‘Thanks!’ ”

Oh, wait. I forgot about those worst-case-scenario junkies who with their crystal balls predict catastrophic conflicts of interest because of, say, the library and park boards voting on policies that might affect the other deleteriously.

That is a possibility.

However, just might someone serving on both boards bring to their respective tables a more nuanced evaluation and, subsequently, a better informed recommendation to resolve dicey issues? Privy to the complex machinations – and egos – of each committee, he would be in the best position of anyone on either board to prevent one’s dominance or advantage over the other by intimately understanding and appreciating both positions.

Perhaps this leap of faith is too much to ask of local naysayers. Instead, these Chicken Littles see the sky falling on a cloudless day.

I’m not saying Jay Moffat is the best person for either board. My vote is still unpromised.

All I’m saying is that when in sleepy Geneva – where only a small fraction of the voting body gets off their couches to vote, much less to go through all the machinations of running for office – let’s be less cynical about those who step up.

Unfortunately, the only person who can do enough to please some people is Nobody.

• Rick Holinger has taught high school English and lived in the Fox Valley for nearly 35 years. His poetry, fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in more than 100 literary magazines, and he founded and facilitates the St. Charles Writers Group. Contact him at editorial@ kcchronicle.com.