Jon “JT ” thompson, sedona City council

Experience: What Is It Really Worth?

10 Jul 2022 2:17 PM | Jon Thompson (Administrator)

Did you get your ballot yet? If you're on the early voter list, you should be getting it any day now, if you haven't received it already. And unless you've already made up your mind, one of the criteria you will likely be using to determine your voting choices is experience. Candidates who have it will say how valuable it is, while candidates who don't have it will say that fresh approaches are necessary. So who's right? conducted virtual interviews with all four of our mayor candidates and all six councilor candidates, and they published the interviews online around the first of last month. (Use the site's search feature to find them by candidate name.) One of the questions addressed the value of experience, and I've since realized that my answer left off a particularly important point. Here, first, is the question and my answer:

What do you think is better? Electing people who have served for years in office, committees, etc.? Or electing a candidate that may be politically inexperienced but brings new ideas to the table? Isn’t that what they call a false dichotomy? It’s interesting to me that someone who has served in office for some years is assumed to be drained of new ideas. For one thing, an experienced councilor may still be working to get across ideas that were new once and are still as important and worthwhile as any new ones—these things, especially big complex things, don’t get implemented overnight. Also, an experienced councilor can have new ideas all the time, but with the added knowledge of how to present them and work on them in the political environment. And finally, an effective councilor, one who isn’t burdened with stubbornness and a self-centered ego, can recognize and promote good ideas that come from others, or from anywhere. So I would say to look first for the candidate who can recognize a good idea wherever it comes from and has the ability to promote it effectively. Their level of experience and their individual ability to come up with the ideas by themselves are bonuses.

I still think that's true. But the important point I missed in that answer is that someone who has not done a job already can only imagine what it's really like. And if they get the job and find out that it's very different from what they were expecting, they might be willing and able to make the necessary adjustment, or they might bail—essentially or literally. Candidates who have already served on council have already shed most, if not all, illusions about the complexity, pressures, time commitment, and other aspects of the position. So if they are willing and interested in serving again, we voters have not only their record of service to evaluate but also the assurance that they know what's expected and what's possible. So we know not only whether they represent our individual interests or not, but also that they are more likely to be the same after the election as during the campaign.

Taking that point a step further, I would also point out that you can tell something about first-time candidates' character from how thoroughly they are willing to prepare themselves for a job they have never held. Have they served on any city commissions or committees, attended many council meetings? If they are running for mayor, have they previously served on council? Have they attended the Sedona Citizens Academy or the Community Police Academy? How long have they even lived in or visited Sedona?

As you fill out your ballot, if you have any of these questions about me—or any other questions for that matter—please call me: 928-821-5142. And in any case I hope my record of service and my willingness to continue serving will make you confident about voting for me. Thank you!

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Vote for “JT”—Positively.

Background photo by Taylor Van Riper on Unsplash.

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