One of the greatest problems nowadays is how to get elected without owing certain groups, organizations, etc. something in return. For, it is virtually impossible to get elected without financial backing as the last presidential election which involved millions and millions of dollars demonstrates. Former Mayor Bloomberg had enough money to virtually buy his own election, but most people must have financial support from powerful sources who contribute for definite reasons. All to often, those who support the candidate with large sums expect quid pro quo if this candidate wins.
The money issue is a massive "pitfall," indeed. How does one avoid this without being independently wealthy? If the winning official exerts all efforts to be a person of integrity and not repay "the favor," his or her actions may be blocked by the disgruntled financial party or parties.
This is entirely a matter of opinion. My hope is that I could provide an answer that pulls from what defines and constitutes an effective elected official and a small sampling of the temptations and pitfalls that besiege them. Initially, I would like to think that I would make a good elected official because of a belief in "doing good." One of the most important elements in any elected official is their belief that they can make a difference. It is cliched, but it is overused for a reason. Elected officials should be motivated by the ideal of public service and civic virtue. When we examine what comprises a good elected official, this core value and belief system becomes critical:
Individuals seeking or holding public office should have a passion about public service. It should not be attractive because of the perceived “power” or ability to garner publicity. Nor should it be a way to right a perceived injustice or to fill up time during retirement. The best municipal politicians are those with a huge sense of civic duty and a feeling of giving back to a community that has been good to them.
The ability to operate as an elected official with a "huge sense of civic duty" is one of the most important components in their being. I hope I would be able to possess this.
At the same time, avoiding issues of "perceived power" becomes another issue surrounding elected officials. The trappings of power defines the pitfalls and temptations of the office. Elected officials must represent the idea that their power comes from "the consent of the governed." This is a critical element in being an elected official. Avoiding the fruits of labor in the form of powerful benefits is a condition of being I hope I would have the courage to avoid. There are so many stories of elected leaders breaking the public trust because of power. It is so seductive and so easy to lead an elected official astray. My hope is that I would be able to resist it by understanding that civic duty is my calling and that I am not really entitled to the fruits of the position. Simply being in that position is a reflection of holding myself to a higher standard. I hope I would emulate this as a good elected official.
I would also hope that I possess the transformational vision that is a part of my definition of good leadership in an elected official. One of the most important elements to my understanding of civic duty is to ensure that I would ensure that I am able to help facilitate a transformational vision while maintaining the preservation of the social order. I hope I would be able to offer and posit a view to my constituents of how things could be as opposed to merely how they are. In my mind, the greatest of good elected officials possessed this transformational capacity. Such a vision of change is what keeps everyone focused. I would rather be a leader who does the right thing than simple does things right. While I can already see how there would be nuanced complexity in which change challenges existing conditions, I hope I would remain true to a transformative vision that is line with the elected office I hold. This is something that I hope could embrace as this helps to define a sense of goodness to what it means to be an elected official.