Submitted by Ginger Kuenzel, DLE ’12, Speaker, Author, Editor, Translator, Corporate Consultant, Adirondacks Enthusiast, Hague, NY/ Englewood, FL
With elections on the horizon, it seems like an ideal time to provide an update on my political career. A few years ago, I ran for and was elected to the Town Board in the small town where I live in upstate New York.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight, it was one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a bit like beating my head against a stone wall while having both hands tied behind my back. That’s enough to give anyone a severe headache. It quickly became a nearly full-time job – involving so many hours that the salary works out to less than $1 hour.
Okay, I was never in it for the money – unlike many other politicians here in New York. More than two dozen members of the New York state legislature have been indicted or resigned in disgrace over the past five years. Both the Senate majority leader and the Assembly speaker (who, along with the governor, are the state’s top leaders) were charged with corruption this year. In fact, this is the fifth straight Senate majority leader to face criminal charges. But I digress. I don’t believe we have any corruption here at the town level. Though I admit that I did briefly consider this as a way to get out of serving out the rest of my four-year term.
But I have learned a few things. As Chair of the Park Committee, I learned that it was my job to lock the bathrooms every night at 10 and to unlock them by 7 each morning. I also quickly learned about programmable locks and put money in the budget for them last fall. And voila! No more disrupted mornings and evenings this year.
I also learned that managing teenage lifeguards at our town beach is no walk in the park. The excuses for not showing up for work (and not calling in) were often creative, though never believable. They obviously did not lie awake at night trying to figure out these excuses.
Rather, they were engaged in other activities that not only prevented them from waking up in time to come to work by 10am but also hindered their judgment as to what constitutes a good excuse. “I lost my phone” or “I had a fight with my boyfriend” just aren’t good reasons for not working. I think the worst excuse of all, though, was when a lifeguard said she didn’t come to work the day before because the weather was so nice and she wanted to enjoy the day. Seriously? You’re a lifeguard. On a nice day, the beach is crowded and that’s when we really need you!
I’ve learned that a visit to our Town Hall can put a real damper on my day. The receptionist greets me regularly with a gnarly, “What do you want now?” Once, when I needed a key (no, not for the bathroom), she said she first needed a resolution by the Town Board authorizing it. As it turned out, the door wasn’t even ever locked!
I’ve learned that working with Republicans in our town who don’t trust anyone who is a Democrat (which I am) makes progress excruciatingly difficult. Republican Abe Lincoln once said, “You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”
He obviously didn’t live here, where I’m finding that you can never actually please all of the people – even some of the time.