- October 20, 2021
An old sales trick is to offer something and something vs. something and nothing. For example, an effective salesman does not ask if you want to make an appointment with him or her, rather they ask, “Would morning be better for you, or would you prefer afternoon?” That appears to be the choice that Williamsport
An old sales trick is to offer something and something vs. something and nothing. For example, an effective salesman does not ask if you want to make an appointment with him or her, rather they ask, “Would morning be better for you, or would you prefer afternoon?” That appears to be the choice that Williamsport voters are faced with the city government proposals being offered on the November 6th ballot. In numerous discussions with area voters, many believe that they must vote for either a Home Rule government or vote for a Council-Manager form of government. There is a third option that needs to be considered — voting “no” to both proposals.
If both proposals do not receive a majority vote, then the current government will remain in place. This does not mean that another referendum cannot be initiated and the issue can be put before the voters again, but assuming that the voters choose to stay with their present system, how could the city of Williamsport get a more effective government?
The one thing that seems to have been missed in all the discussion on Williamsport government initiatives is that regardless of the form of government, it still comes back to people. Think of a coach who draws up the absolutely perfect game plan, but the players play carelessly. Or a company that has a great product, attractive packaging, a wonderful marketing plan, but the employees in the company are lazy, and as a result, sales are slack. Any plan is only as good as the people who carry it out. This includes those elected and those who elect them.
An interesting aspect of democracy that is very rarely mentioned anywhere is that it only truly works with an informed electorate. A marginally qualified individual with a pleasant personality and a gift for rhetoric will often get elected, whereas an intelligent person with a good grasp of civics and a profound sense of fairness will just as often be left in the dust. In short, we get the government we choose.
So, a lesson for Williamsport voters, and for the rest of us for that matter, is to become Smart Voters. Smart Voters are ones who take the time to know about the candidates and issues that will be on the ballot. (The fact that you are reading this column indicates that you have the potential to be a Smart Voter!)
There are three key questions that a Smart Voter should seek to find out about any candidate, even an incumbent. First, what do they care about? This goes beyond particular issues, but rather asks, what are their values, to what do they devote their time? Are they involved in volunteer organizations, church or charities, or their family? Or have they primarily devoted their lives to their occupation and making money? This goes to the heart of the real person — and this is the person that will be in office.
Second, what is their signature issue? Individuals running for office often have a list of items they run on, but cutting through all of that is generally one key, important issue they care about. What is it? Is it something you care about? If so, do they have any good and practical ways to address it?
Third, who are their ‘friends’ and where is the money coming from for their campaign? At the most local level, most individuals run without any campaign funds, but as the stakes get higher, so does the price tag for running. This information is not easy to get, but it is revealing. You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep and those whose pockets are deep.
The best choice for Williamsport voters could very well be to say “no” to both proposals on the ballot for a change in government, and instead, look ahead to voting “yes” on better individuals to fill the positions of power in Williamsport government. In the end, we are the government. As Benjamin Franklin told a lady, who asked him at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, as he was leaving Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation whether they have a Republic or a Monarchy, “A Republic, madam if you can keep it.”