The Election is Over: It’s Time to Lead

Leadership Matters

Leadership Matters

The election is over.

Can we talk?
Can we vent just a little bit?

We just went through an election cycle in which several seats in Boca Raton and Delray Beach were up for grabs.

As a result, many of us found our mailboxes and voice mail inundated with “messages” and candidate’s “plans”.

It seems that every candidate was going to “fight” developers, end traffic, fix our schools (even though they weren’t running for School Board) and add services while cutting taxes (that would be a nifty trick).

Is it too much to ask for details?

Truth is, there are “solutions” for all of those maladies, including the dreaded developer (not all of them are bad and many live right here and care about the community too, even if they are seeking profits).

But we never seem to hear the details as candidates seem to think the path to victory is to out pander each other. I suppose they are right, after all each race crowns a winner. But I can tell you that the voters I talked too were not really happy with the messages that were being crammed down their throats and in their mail boxes.

I have covered and followed city elections in Delray and Boca since 1987.  I’ve seen a lot.

In 1990, Delray had a landmark election in which three candidates led by a bright young mayoral hopeful named Tom Lynch ran on a platform to run the city like a business, bring stability to City Hall, fix neighborhoods and get involved in local schools.

Sure, running the city like a business is a cliché, but these candidates had actual detailed plans for doing what they said they were going to do.

The winning ticket ushered in an era of unprecedented progress in a city that really needed help at the time. Delray was “Dull Ray” in those days. Boca had IBM and the western suburbs were booming. Delray was experiencing stagnation, crime, dysfunction and disinvestment. But armed with citizen support, a vision and bond money, the leadership in the 90s put Delray on track.

Ten years later, a new crop of candidates emerged to build on the 90s “Decade of Excellence”. I dug through some old files to see mailers from those days. Again—detailed plans to enact smart growth policies, attract jobs, revitalize neighborhoods and improve communication with our citizens so that they may get more involved .

The technology of today’s campaigns is vastly superior to the old days of envelope stuffing at the kitchen table and blindly knocking on doors. But the substance is sorely lacking.

If you don’t favor parking meters, that’s OK, but don’t tell voters that you will fight to keep parking free. Parking is not free. Taxpayers are footing the bill for the garages and lots.

If you want to stop over development that’s great, terrific really; but what do you suggest exactly? How will you balance neighborhood concerns with private property rights and the need to attract more jobs?
That’s what voters need to know—details. We all want quality of life. We all want great schools and safe neighborhoods. What specific ideas do you have to bring those about?

We didn’t hear those in this recent campaign.

Well, now the candidates are elected officials. 

The time to pander is over; the time to lead is here. We wish you luck, but more importantly we wish you success. Because when good leadership is in place, good things start to happen. We’ve seen that in Delray and Boca.

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