I believe elected office is a public trust. It is a temporary status conferred upon individuals who have a duty to serve and to represent others for a defined term.
No political leadership role is permanent. That’s why one vital task of a political leader is replacing yourself. People who do not recruit and mentor replacements are mere office-holders, not leaders.
Office-holders will cling to a position for the privilege, the status or the power. They can’t tell you what they accomplished in the previous term. They are unable to articulate any clear goals they hope to achieve in the next. And they aren’t out recruiting and preparing anyone new, because they don’t intend to step down.
Leaders attract a following. Leaders are always recruiting others, not only to help them do the work set out for today, but also because they realize it’s their job to prepare leaders for tomorrow. They inspire others to take up the flag behind them. They step down when they’ve reached their goals, and they hand over the reins.
I support term limits because while not every office-holder is a good leader, the power of incumbency protects and insulates them just the same. But many political positions aren’t subject to term limits. In those cases, it’s up to the leaders themselves to know when they’ve accomplished their goals, and when to exit the stage.
After three terms of service on the Shelby County Republican Party’s steering committee, the time is coming for me to step down and let others take my place.
When Lang Wiseman recruited me to serve in an at-large position on the steering committee in 2009, I simply wanted to get more involved. I was able to learn many things from Chairman Wiseman and his team, and I had the pleasure of serving on the technology and communications committees and contributing to the Republican sweep of every countywide office in 2010.
Wiseman stepped down after a single term and was replaced by Justin JoyAlthough Joy ran unopposed in the 2011 chairman election, every at-large position was contested by a slate of other activists. That challenge gave me the opportunity to address the convention with a speech encouraging unity and continued participation, a message that handed me the largest vote total of the day. In those years, I helped stabilize a steering committee divided in factions and suffering from turnover in the executive director’s role. Although we were disappointed by the 2012 Presidential election, we celebrated the victory of Amy Weirich as District Attorney General.
At the end of the term, I was promoted to the 4th Vice Chairman seat and was challenged for reelection to the position in 2013, with nearly-identical results. That time, I used the convention speech to take a stand against the chairman of the Shelby County Commission, Mike Ritz, a ringleader of the consolidation movement. And this year I contributed to another Republican rout of countywide offices, and a big win for our Republican-endorsed judicial candidates, as chairman of the party’s candidate recruitment committee.
I had to laugh this past week reading the news. The Memphis Flyer, the Memphis Daily News and the Commercial Appeal each responded to the election with in-depth articles about the Shelby County Democrats and what they need to do in order to reclaim power. Scarcely a word has been written about Chairman Joy, one of the most humble and modest leaders I have ever worked with. And it’s very fitting, because he doesn’t seek the spotlight; his results speak loud enough.
It has been a great honor serving under Chairman Wiseman and Chairman Joy and working alongside many fine members of the steering committee, several of whom I recruited and are now finishing their first terms. All of them are capable of filling my seat as 4th Vice Chair. I have completed all that I set out to do. Not everything I did was completely successful, but I gave my best through three general election cycles and a series of special elections in-between. Now it’s time for some of these new leaders to emerge and to build upon what we have accomplished, so I will not be running for a fourth term next year.
It has been a busy period. While on the steering committee, I also served three terms as an executive officer of the Northeast Shelby Republican Club, as President, Vice President and Treasurer. Simultaneously, I put together a grassroots organization to fight school consolidation and led two referendum campaigns in favor of Bartlett City Schools.
Now I turn my attention to the campaign for Bartlett Alderman Position 1, where voters will have a choice between a “new” candidate and an incumbent who has spent the last 18 years in government.
I take this step not to occupy an office but to serve the public, for a limited time.
If you’d like to support me in that effort, I certainly welcome your help.