Enough of the Same Old, Same Old
Shreveport should elect a leader with integrity
Go to any of the leading candidates’ websites for Shreveport mayor, and you’ll learn their priorities, or those issues they say their administration will be focused on, if they are elected into office. Crime reduction. Education. Economic development. Community reinvestment. Improving our quality of life. Careful spending of taxpayer dollars.
Really, though? Does anyone want to get in a brawl over these issues? These are not new issues. You can literally hear the 1990s calling, and they’d like their campaign issues back.
I mean, c’mon. Which voters would not support these prepackaged, recycled (over and over) talking-points made by the candidates? Improve our quality of life? Oh, no, you don’t. Reduce crime? Why would anyone even want to do that? Spend taxpayer monies efficiently? Well, now you’ve crossed the line.
These are important issues, yes, but aren’t these candidates just stating the obvious? A candidate who says they support the idea of increasing the number of good-paying jobs in their city, their state, etc. is about as helpful as a candidate’s bumper sticker that says, “It’s Time for a Change.”
And yes, the candidates will also say how this is “the most important election ever” and that their community is “at a crossroads,” yada, yada, yada.
This, again, is stating the obvious. In Shreveport, most everyone agrees (and in every neighborhood) that Shreveport has to reverse our declining population (and a shrinking tax base). We need to figure out how to finance almost one billion dollars in underfunded pension plans, water, sewer and road repair projects. We have to protect our families from rising crime, make our streets cleaner, create transparency at city hall and increase economic development beyond simply raising taxes or listening to elected officials drone on and on with empty promises of “good-paying” jobs.
Now, some candidates have plans for their first 100 days in office, for example. But most of these plans do not include a single novel idea. It’s as if the well of our collective political imagination has run dry. Most candidates trot out old, tired ideas that haven’t worked particularly well in the past, otherwise we would not be discussing the same issues, over and over, every election cycle, in the first place.
But if political candidates stating the obvious (about what we already know about our own community) isn’t terribly helpful in deciding which of candidates to “hire” into public office, then what is helpful?
If you ask Warren Buffet, he says it’s integrity. Buffet explains, “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they do not have the first, the other two will kill you.”
You see, Buffet says, if you don’t have integrity, your intelligence and energy are worthless. Some say this is the difference between a genius and a thief. Both possess energy and intelligence, but what distinguishes them is their integrity.
Integrity, of course, is founded on honesty and trust. It’s often said “a fish rots from the head” so if the mayor of your city, the governor of your state, etc. is not a person of integrity, then what do you think will become of the remainder of the fish?
But a person of integrity attracts others because they are trustworthy and dependable – even when no one else is looking. And because “birds of a feather flock together,” if you don’t get the guy or gal at the top right, you won’t get any of it right with the folks below them. You can’t fully lead if you can’t fully be trusted.
John Maxwell explains this in the “Law of the Lid,” which says, “Leadership ability is always the lid on personal and organizational effectiveness. If a person’s leadership is strong, the organization’s lid is high. But if it’s not, then the organization is limited.” The better the leader, the stronger the organization, whether it be at city hall, a church, a school or corporation.
Writing for CBS Money Watch, author Tom Searcy explains it like this: “Hire someone with high energy, high intelligence, but low integrity, and you’ll get a smart, fast-moving thief. Hire someone with high intelligence, high integrity, but low energy, and you’ll get a shopkeeper, not an engine of growth. Hire someone with high energy, high integrity, but low intelligence, and you’ll get a strong functionary, but not a great problem-solver or visionary.”
Putting all the pieces together then – integrity, intelligence and energy – you have a great package deal. The question is, all things being equal, which of these is most important when “hiring” the next mayor?
From the past 20 years of mayoral elections in Shreveport, I’d say let’s start with the one quality that separates the genius from the thief – and we’ll build from there.
Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at email@example.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.