Guest column: We need the best people in the room


The deadline for filing to become a candidate for state and county offices is Friday, writes John Radford.

I am writing because a deadline approaches to become a candidate for our state and county elected offices.

We have the opportunity every two years to vote into office the citizens that will represent our values and priorities. They become the voices that wield the power and set the course of our laws and our future. I am writing because we have real issues that need resolved. We want to ensure the best people are in the room and have a voice to solve those problems. The issues facing our state and our communities are life and death for many of our citizens. I ask you to consider running for an elected office in our state or county.

President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech about the Man in the Arena is ultimately true: the critic has no power. The power belongs to those who jump in and go to work and find solutions and progression. Those in the arena hold the power and impose their will on our future.

It is this very reason that we must have honorable, competent people with good intentions step into the political fray and run for office. If good people stay on the sidelines, we will not succeed in governing ourselves. Instead the solutions we find to solve our fundamental problems will be government centric and intrusive instead of value centered and welcomed.

Serving in an elected office is rewarding, humbling, fulfilling and very difficult. We serve with the knowledge that much of what we will do or say will be vilified. We serve knowing that if we have to pass an ordinance or a law someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. That is a poor place to begin, and yet it must be done, because doing nothing will often mean chaos. We also have opportunities to facilitate solutions and help folks succeed. We have a voice to influence our community and friends. We have the opportunity to grow our social circles and we become allies in our attempt to make our community a vibrant functioning place for our peers and community members.

Many days, I am happy with my resolve and our progress. At alternating times I finish my day despondent with the burden of omission and things left to do. The true value of service is sharing these joys and burdens with those who have joined me in the arena and the eventual outcomes that improve lives. Candidates value the experience of running for office - win or lose - because of the people they come to know, listen to, and influence. It is clearly a base human instinct to be part of a community. Running for office ensures you will have that community. They will respect you for your effort and courage to run.

Your family and friends need you to make our lives better. No society or community has ever been made better without intent. Those communities will not become better without good people doing the right things. If you are not engaged and involved the intent will be left to those most motivated to control the power. For so many of our citizens those involved today do not reflect their interests. The needs from our communities are not being addressed or improved. To change this pattern we need you to come out and run for office. Please step into the arena and fight for our state, our community and our future.

John Radford is a father, husband, citizen and serves on the Idaho Falls City Council, he is also the general manager at Barnes and Noble Booksellers.