Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

First impressions count in politics, too

Political antipathy overcome for community involvement

July 21, 2005

It has been said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and I personally have had enough experience to know that to be true. However, I think a second chance is sometimes warranted because of the fallible nature of people.

When I was in college, I applied for a resident assistant position in the dorms. I remember going to the meetings, and when they divided us up in small groups for the first phase of the interview, I quickly scouted out my competition. There was a guy in the group who was very soft spoken and quiet in nature, a total opposite of me. Immediately, I associated that to a lack of leadership and crossed him off my list as a possible candidate.

When the process was completed, I didn't make it past the first round and he became an RA. First impressions can be costly if they are based on impressions and not substance. Unfortunately, we don't always reflect such a tolerance.

I have always had a dislike for politics because of my experience with my dad's involvement in it. He spent countless hours in pursuit of a political career, only to become disillusioned by its ugly side. My first impression of politics was that it was a waste of time and mostly corrupt. I decided I would not make politics a part of my life.

Last week, our city was abuzz with the Eudora City Council's decision on renewing Bobby Arnold's contract as the parks and recreation director. Initially I was not interested in the events unfolding, but for some reason, I decided to attend that city council meeting to watch the proceedings and attend my first-ever political event.

You could feel the tension that evening in the room full of people. Emotions were riding high and the fate of a man's job loomed in the council's vote that night.

All the unpleasant memories of politics rushed through my mind. On the plus side, I was very impressed to see the support Arnold had in the room. That was one of the best-attended city council meetings in a long time. I knew Arnold had not done any canvassing for support, so I assume the support in the room was voluntary.

As individuals went up to the podium to state their cases, I found myself having the urge to do the same. My vow to stay away from getting involved politically was being challenged and I was on the verge of stepping up to the podium and declaring my opinion on the matter.

It wasn't so bad after I gave my two cents. In fact, it felt good to say my piece. The ugly side of politics reared its ugly head when there was an accusation made regarding one of the council members mocking one of the speakers. I didn't see that happen, but the individual who called that matter to attention was visibly perturbed. I don't blame him if in fact that was what happened. I hope, for the sake of making a good first impression to a large number of citizens in attendance, that the council member's action was misinterpreted.

When the council returned from the executive session, and the verdict was announced. Bobby Arnold kept his job.

After the cheering died down, the mayor made a remark that surprised me. The mayor indicated that this was not his choice and that Arnold's job was not the council's responsibility anymore.

That evening would have been a good opportunity to thank the citizens for getting involved and making their voices heard and encouraging more of such involvement in future events.

Making a reference to a personal opinion was not the best way to make a first impression on many citizens who attended the meeting that night for the first time. I'm hoping there would be a second chance to make a first impression.

  • On a separate note, I want to extend kudos to the Eudora Amateur Baseball Association and the Eudora coaches for putting together a fantastic 10-and-younger baseball tournament.

A special thanks goes to Don Wellman, Pete Howell and Mike Underwood, who coached their team through a fantastic season in winning the league and the tournament title.

My son was one of the kids fortunate enough to play for these coaches, and the team spirit instilled in those kids will serve them well in their future sports endeavors.

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