When I was a kid, I remember watching Adlai Stevenson giving a campaign speech on TV during his run for the Presidency. I asked my Father why he just doesn't say, "I will do what is best for the majority of People?" My Dad shrugged his shoulders.
As I got older and took college classes in political science, I learned that running for National office takes a lot of money and most of that money comes from various special interests. These interests donate their money knowing that a high percentage of their concerns will later be addressed by their candidate. I have found this to be true at all levels of government, from the Federal level all the way down to the local level.
However, in a town of 41,000 people and 31 sq. miles in size, why must that mentality prevail? We have a General Plan; a voter approved document, designed to advise elected officials of the People's desires. It expresses their feelings about the environment, safety, recreation, and land use, among other things. This document is a guide from the most important special interest group -- the People.
I am often asked about the different philosophies among Council members. One differing philosophy is to let staff do all the thinking. “After all,” their argument goes, “we hire the best and the brightest, so why question their expertise?” My philosophy is different: Study the material, ask questions, network, and verify, not just take staff's recommendations without further work.
Another differing philosophy, and this is paramount, is to honor the People’s will via the General Plan -- the only voter-approved document that we have -- and not the special interests. I might go down in a resounding defeat, but I will not alter my stance that the most important special interest is the Citizens.
The Citizens are not loud, they’re not wealthy, they do not contribute a lot of money, and, unfortunately, they do not get involved until their neighborhood and views are threatened. It’s difficult to run for office with a citizen-centered philosophy, knowing that my opponents have thousands of dollars in donations from the development community at their disposal -- money that is used for multiple color mailers, weekly newspaper ads, and for hiring a professional consulting firm.
I know how the odds are skewed, but I will not change my philosophy.
As always, before every vote, I will research the material and ask myself how I should vote to represent the people. In most instances, I’ve observed that the desires of the special interests and wishes of the people coincide which makes my decision easy. But when they do not, my vote will always be for the constituents who I represent.
Oro Valley Council Member
2016 Oro Valley Council Candidate
To learn more about Mike Zinkin, visit his website: VoteMikeZinkin.com