In Pursuit of Public Service

3 02 2010

With several prominent local officials deciding to collect their retirement checks, the races for county positions are full with hopefuls looking to work on the government’s dime here in Nelson County, Kentucky. Nearly every office is contested and there are in fact 12 Democrats and one lone Republican gunning for County Clerk, a job noted for its low level of responsibility and high rate of pay.

I would direct you to the source material, but honestly the stories are not the most exciting piece of journalism I have ever done. Instead, I’ve provided the follow transcript that is a mash-up of the many (too many) interviews the staff at the Standard has done with candidates for county positions.

Interviewer: Tell me about what in your experience has prepared you for this position?

Candidate: Well, ya see, I believe, I think I am pretty good with people. People say I can get along with just about anybody. I bet there ain’t hardly no one in this county who don’t know me. I am just good with most everyone I meet. Serving the public is important too, I’d say it just might be one of my favorite things to do.

Int: I guess it’s good to know that you have at least enough humanity to form bonds of friendship with others of your species and are thus, a person capable of getting along with people. Really a stand-out accomplishment, might just swing the electorate in your favor.

But how, exactly, does that qualify you do something like say, run the county clerk’s office or the county jail? Do you plan to just talk to people a lot or actually do some work?

Can: Well, if ya’ll look at my resume that I gave ya’ll, it says I have been the operator and manger of the Speed Lube here in town for 12 years. I have to order parts an’ stuff so I keep a kind of budget, which is part of the job description for what I’m running for. My wife says I’ve always had a good head for numbers.

Int: That’s lovely. Now would probably be a good time to pay the appropriate homage to the person who previously ran the office and is now retiring.

Can: Well, I just would like to continue the wonderful tradition of service that Mrs. Spencer established at that office. I just want know that customer service was important to her and it is to me too. Like I said, when you are in an elected official, you serve the public and public service is what I am all about.

Int: Very good, moving on, How long would you describe your residency in this county.

Can: Lifelong.

Int: Wonderful, you must then know this county better than your opponents, would you think?

Can: Yes and I think my connection to the area an’ its residents is something unique along with my desire and intense, burning motivation to help the public, attend to its needs and in general ways just serve ’em.

Int: And what motivated you to began your crusade for elected office?

Can: Well, I’ve just had several folks come up to me and suggest it to me and I thought then I’d just go ahead and give ‘er a go. Also, serving the public, just love it, got to serve that good ol’ public.

Int: You know, I’ve always believed that when people tell you to do something you should always do it. It’s the kind of principled stand this country and county need more of. You like to serve the public, correct? Perhaps this also compelled you to enter the race?

Can: Oh definitely, like I said I’m a people person and I believe in treatin’ all people fairly and equal.

Int: So it has nothing to do with the fact that the 80-90k you’d be pulling down in salary for the job is far beyond what your high school diploma is statistically capable of earning?

Can: ‘Course not. I just what to give back to the community is all, cause the county has given me so much over the course of my life here. And the public. Serving them. It’s important I think.

Int: Are you aware that the 11 other people you are vying with for this position have said exactly the same things as you? They are, in fact, also a people person, also like working with the public and have indeed spent their whole lives as member of this county?

Can: Maybe sir, but you see, I believe using technology to advance the capabilities and duties of this office.

Int: Well, that just makes you so special. Anything else to add?

Can: Did I mention I want to serve the public?

In pursuit of public service

With several prominent local officials deciding to collect their retirment checks, the races for county positions are full with hopefuls looking to work on the government’s dime here in Nelson County, Kentucky. Nearly every office is contested and there are in fact 12 Democrats and one lone Republican gunning for County Clerk, a job noted for its low level of responsibility and high rate of pay.

I would direct you to the source material, but honestly the stories are not the most exciting piece of journalism I have ever done. Instead, I’ve provided the follow transcript that is a mash-up of the many (too many) interviews the staff at the Standard has done with candidates for county positions.

Interviewer: Tell me about what in your experience has prepared you for this position?

Candidate: Well, ya see, I believe, I think I am pretty good with people. People say I can get along with just about anybody. I bet there ain’t hardly no one in this county who don’t know me. I just good with most everyone I meet. Serving the public is important too, I’d say it just might be one my favorite things to do.

Q: I guess it’s good to know that you have at least enough humanity to form bonds of friendship with others of your species and are thus, a person capable of getting along with people. Really a stand-out accomplishment, might just swing the electorate in your favor.

But how, exactly, does that qualify you do something like say, run the county clerk’s office or the county jail? Do you plan to just talk to people a lot or actually do some work?

A: Well, if ya’ll look at my resume that I gave ya’ll, it says I have been the operator and manger of the Speed Lube here in town for 12 years. I have to order parts an’ stuff so I keep a kind of budget, which is part of the job description for what I’m running for. My wife says I’ve always had a good head for numbers.

Q: That’s lovely. Now would probably be a good time to pay the appropriate homage to the person who previously ran the office and is now retiring.

A: Well, I just would like to continue the wonderful tradition of service that Mrs. Spencer established at that office. I just want know that customer service was important to here and it is to me too. Like I said, when you are in an elected official, you serve the public and public service is what I am all about.

Q: Very good, moving on, How long would you describe your residency in this county.

A: Lifelong.

Q: Wonderful, you must then know this county better than your opponents, would you think?

A: Yes and I think my connection to the are an’ its residents is something unique along with my desire and intense motivation to help the public, attend to its needs and in general ways just serve ’em.

Q: And what motivated you to began your crusade for elected office?

A: Well, I’ve just had several folks come up to me and suggest it to me and I thought then I’d just go ahead and give ‘er a go. Also, serving the public, just love it, got to serve that good ol’ public.

Q: You know, I’ve always believed that when people tell you to do something you should always do it. It’s the kind of principled stand this country and county need more of. You like to serve the public, correct? Perhaps this also compelled you to enter the race?

A: Oh definitely, like I said I’m a people person and I believe in treatin’ all people fairly and equal.

Q: So it has nothing to do with the fact that the 80-90k you’d be pulling down in salary for the job is far beyond what your high school diploma is statistically capable of earning?

A: ‘Course not. I just what to give back to the community is all, cause the county has given me so much over the course of my life here. And the public. Serving them. It’s important I think.

Q: Are you aware that the 11 other people you are vying with for this nomination have said exactly the same things as you? They are, in fact, also a people person, also like working with the public and have indeed spent their whole lives as member of this county?

A: Maybe sir, but you see, I believe using technology to advance the capabilities and duties of this office.

Q: Well, that just makes you so special. Anything else to add?

A: Did I mention I want to serve the public?

We all project, in some ways I guess often in many ways, these images of ourselves in the best of ourselves doing the best god damn thing we’ve ever done. We are out there curing cancer or writing a novel or some other ridiculous thing but the point is we are there, we are doing it and it’s going pretty well. We compare such mental hallucinations to our present circumstances and we believe that we are not so many steps away that we are right on the cusp that we are a cup of coffee away from perfect inspiration. I mean honestly, why else do you drink coffee every day?

So, for me, personally, one of these involves activities of physical exertion, in particularly there was the time I went mountain biking out in this crazy Utah desert, just madness, just up on this sandstone plataeu following a dotted white line up and down this nuts path blazed by an out-of-his-mind dude much more hardcore than I could ever hope or aspire to be. It’s beautiful and fucking difficult and everybody is just glad to be out there and capable of possessing a body and muscles able to perform the kind of complex motorskill transactions required to balance and try such a feat in the first place. You just go flying down the side of these rocks, you learn to keep a steady hand on the brake (never use the front one obvious tip) so that your speed is under (sort of) control. You don’t know what you are doing because if you are me you have never done such a thing but you are flying along down this hill and then Christ look out make it around this corner so you don’t go tumbling down and get all broken boned on the beautiful sandstone landscape.

It’s possible the most physically demanding thing you’ve ever done but in that moment you are about it because there is this river that has with eons of effort carved out this chunk of land you are biking and it is god damn breathtaking to look at the river past the chasm and out into the desert. So when I am sitting at home watching some terrible TV program or strangling the voice inside me saying do something productive into a muted whine I think of the feeling that your hands get after they scrape against rock or hold onto something physical for long periods of time. I think of sandstone in the sunshine and what in the hell am I doing here I should be out there. I should have quit my job and become just a mountain biking bum just all day up and down and always going to sleep tired x-amount of beers drunk and sun tanned do the maximum degree my skin is able. I would always be there on the side of some steep-ass hill with my hands chaffed from activity and my legs iron pillars of strength.

I can see myself there, like some sort of hero on the cover of a magazine, bike over my shoulder and sun on my back. This image though, it’s just one of many, and the truth of my life is that my imagination is stronger than my will ever has or seems to be able to be.

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