Are You Cut Out for a Job in Politics?

Are You Cut Out for a Job in Politics?

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I am the mayor of the town of Irmo, South Carolina. I have six years of political experience. I was elected to the Irmo Town Council in 2005, re-elected in 2009, and then elected as Mayor in 2011 for a four-year term.

I make decisions with a council of five members in regards to the town of Irmo. We discuss and vote on the various issues that arise. Some people may find it surprising that in our form of government, called a council-form, the mayor is only one vote; he has no more power than other council members.

On a scale of one to ten I would rate my job as a five. In order to unleash my full enthusiasm I would like to see the attitudes of other council members become more desirous to do what is best for our town, and not for themselves.

This job does move me in that I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this time in my life. I like being in this position, as I can truly be a voice for the people of my town, and do what is in my authority to effect change where change is necessary.

Two of the other council members I am now serving with also ran for mayor in November 2011, and lost to me. Another council member who just got elected again was defeated and unseated by me in 2005 when I first got elected to serve on Town Council. I prayed months ago for God to make me a humble man and teach me patience. Wow, was my timing good or what?

I got into this line of work due to a long desire to be involved in politics. Unfortunately, in the world of politics some lessons are learned the hard way. In my case, I learned that campaigns have consequences; so does telling the truth.

You enter this field thinking that your colleagues are all on the same page, and that they too have entered the world of politics because they want to help people. It is disheartening when you learn that most people simply enjoy having the power associated with the position and have no intention to serve the people of their town.

The strangest thing that has ever happened to me in this job is being addressed as “honorable” just because I got elected.

I get up and go to work each day for most of the same reasons everyone else in the working world does: I have a family to support and bills to pay, but at the same time, I do desire to be part of the solution in my community rather than the problem, and I believe that I will have more resources and power behind my voice to see that positive changes are made in my community. I think it is really neat that I can be a part of that whole process.

I deal with a number of stressful challenges each day, from cronyism and egos to political issues, neighborhood issues, neighbors, contributors, apathy, and low voter turnout. While these things may sound negative, if you are steered by the right type of motivation, then all things can work together for good.

A rough salary for my position is approximately $550 per month plus expenses. Obviously this is not very much money, and I do not believe I am paid nearly enough for the amount of work I do each day. However, I also have a full time job which allows me to live comfortably and provide for my family.

Aside from my job in politics, I am a business owner, so I am working all the time. I do not take any vacation time unless it is absolutely necessary.

If a friend was contemplating entering this line of work I would tell him or her not to do it unless he or she had a sincere desire to use the gained “power” for the good of the community. I would also communicate that common sense, good communication skills, and attention to detail will all help you succeed in the field of politics.

If I could write my own ticket, I would like to be running political campaigns for others, political lobbying, and expanding my other business in five years.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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