My grandfather always said that people are only as good as their word. Despite this, or more likely because of it, I was inspired to get involved in politics. I’ve worked on countless campaigns, ran for office, and now work behind the scenes supporting whosoever I choose, local conventional wisdom be damned.
The first test is a simple one: is this person honest? Most people want politicians who are similar to them on the issues. That’s natural. But all of us have observed that politicians say what they have to in order to get in office and stay there, then very little changes. So ideology, particularly in local elections, is secondary to being truthful and forthright. A good example would be my support of Pat Rogan. He’s much more conservative than I am, but he’s a straight shooter and a hard worker. That’s something I like in my politicians. And he’s open to hearing alternate perspectives. I’ve debated with him numerous times and you know what? He still takes my calls. (Also, Pat, if you’re reading, congrats on your recent marriage! I hope you’re enjoying a lovely honeymoon!)
So let’s do a simple logic exercise. Person A says, “If I get X, I will absolutely not do Y.” A few months later, Person A says, “Despite having X, I will absolutely do Y.” What’s wrong with this picture? Should be easy to spot. Person A lied.
Now, let’s look at a recent quote in the Times from Wayne Evans about his decision to run for Scranton City Council: “I think I kept my word– I didn’t run for office.” The title of the article is, “Evans to seek full term on Council.” Seeking a full term on Council sounds a lot like running for office, which Wayne said he would not do when he applied for the Council seat vacated by the resignation of Jack Loscombe. In fact, that was something the Council took into consideration when appointing him.
I’ll call it like it is: Wayne said one thing, did another, and deceived Council and the public. I will under no circumstance vote for somebody who can’t do something so basic as keep his word, especially given that his word was more than just a casual gesture: it was part of his application to a public, governing body.
By way of comparison, I, as a teacher, am required to have appropriate criminal background checks. If I deceived my employers to get my job, I’d be fired.
I reached out to Wayne and expressed my sentiments to him. I’ll post his initial reply: Sorry you feel that way. I certainly struggled with this decision. As you know I didn’t run in the primary….yet several private citizens felt strongly that they wanted to convince me to stay on city council so they started a draft campaign with that goal in mind. The result was 120 republican write in votes and apprx 650 democratic votes….I respect a process where people are not voting for you to win but to simply convince you to run. When I say…how can I walk away, I mean it. I know you understand the situation this city is in. I’ve been involved in the community for over 30 years and I view city council as an extension of that. One thing I have learned since being on council is government change moves at a glacial pace…so many of the initiatives I thought would be done during my tenure remain unfinished. I hope I can continue to make comments and make decisions without viewing things thru a political prism….that has always been important to me. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to comment further on this.
His response basically parrots the information we learned in the paper, which is fine. The fact that he responded is a good sign. After all, who am I but a curmudgeonly political nobody?
I followed up by pointing out that if his word and integrity meant something, then he would wait two years to run. Being involved in the process, if that’s what’s important, can be done from places other than a Council seat. I’m on the Scranton Parking Authority (the place from which Scranton’s fiscal nightmare emanates), if I have any ideas, I pass them on to Council members and to the Mayor. Not too hard.
I Agree …I did get this position in part by agreeing to not run…but I also feel in a rare show of being nonpartisan….I was appointed because I was the most qualified candidate. The answer to your question why not wait? I have said repeatedly while on city council that 2015-16 could be the most critical years in the city’s future. That has not changed….and if I truly feel…and I do… That I can make a difference….again, how do I walk away. Again thank you for allowing me to comment…all the best with your blog
But my grandfather’s maxim sticks with me, especially in a world of politics where trust in the system is at next to zero. It’s simple: I cannot trust Mr. Evans.
Nobody likes a critic. I can hear it now, “Borthwick, you’re too negative. Wayne’s a good guy. You’re alienating people by criticizing a community servant like Wayne.”
I’d say I’m a skeptic, rather than negative. I know Wayne is a good guy. And I don’t mind alienating people who don’t like the perspectives of others. Besides, I think most of you out there would agree, people are only as good as their word.