This time next week, we will have a new mayor. Thankfully, Mayor-Elect Lloyd Winnecke promises to bring a wave of change to Evansville. He also promises to bring back the days when Evansville was on the right track by appointing people such as former mayor Russ Lloyd Jr. as Comptroller in his administration.
Earlier I talked about why government transparency is important to me...
Now, I will show you why it is. With the last few days of Mayor Weinzapfel's administration coming to an end, the Evansville Courier & Press decided to ask him why he chose to become mayor and why he made the decisions he made...
The title of the article is the following: "Opportunity, not agenda, charted course for Weinzapfel."
For those who don't speak the language of politics, let me translate that for you: He came with no vision. As I talked about on my Save Roberts Stadium blog...
Our local Vanderburgh County Democratic Central Committee just loves to prey upon those who enter politics with weakened morals, ethics, and visions. Looking back on these past 8 years, you see what the byproduct of no vision will get you in a town like Evansville where political corruption runs rampant.
In 2007, I was chosen by an organization based in Arlington, VA/Washington, DC named the Leadership Institute to serve them as a Field Rep. For those who don't know, the Leadership Institute is responsible for training notable politicians and activists like Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman Mike Pence, and seven new members of the 112th Congress. Although I disagree with all of these people on most topics, I definitely strive to be like them in terms of political will power.
If you ever get time, do a little research on Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, and Mitch McConnell. What you will find is 3 political leaders who refuse to have their vision altered, refuse to be influenced by those who seek to destroy their vision, and refuse to be jaded by adversity. I am proud to not only have been one of 70 people in the country chosen to represent them, but also for the accomplishment of finishing in the top half of my class at L.I.
Indeed, the Leadership Institute has shaped me into this type of political activist as well. As soon as I got off the airplane in Washington, DC for training and arrived at the LI headquarters, this organization made sure they molded me into a leader of tomorrow which was their one and only goal. The following are things that LI trained me on...
1. Before you get into politics, establish a vision
2. Never let political adversity affect your dedication to your vision
3. If you change your vision make sure it is only your decision and not someone else's decision
And most important...
YOU OWE IT TO YOUR OWN POLITICAL BELIEFS TO FIGHT FOR THEM.
After learning about various political tactics, strategies, and philosophies, the Leadership Institute flew me back to Evansville and then sent me by car all the way out to Seattle where I would be establishing political groups on college campuses such as the University of Washington (U Dub!).
As I drove across America, it quickly became obvious what I was fighting for. From Evansville to Seattle, this land, this country, is simply amazing. There's nothing like taking a road trip across the Pacific Northwest...
For three months, I set up political groups on campuses in and around Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington...
I even participated in a protest in Downtown Seattle...
Although most of my beliefs were Conservative at the time (they were Liberal before), my goals, beliefs, values, and vision are all now moderate and fall right in the middle of the Liberal, Conservative, Authoritarian, Libertarian graph. What are my values?
1. Respect for the environment: The United States (and Canada as well) are an amazing gift to us. There is no reason to degrade or eliminate this
2. Respect for life: In Seattle, I camped outside of a Planned Parenthood with a Pro-Life group. This wasn't the most popular thing to do in Seattle but it was the right thing to do.
3. Respect for animals and wildlife: This is a branch of my respect for life value. Too many times people think that if they can take advantage of another form of life such as an animal or a native habitat to make a dollar they should do it. I find this to be despicable and a disgrace to see such selfishness.
4. A commitment to improve the quality of life around me: Going from Evansville, to Lexington, KY, to Arlington, VA and Washington, DC, and then onto Seattle, WA taught me one important thing- there are answers out there to all of our problems. Since my journey to Seattle, I have now become a strong advocate for high speed rail and other forms of rail transportation, an advocate for environmental and historical preservation, and an advocate for innovative programs such as Earn and Learn in Louisville and MAPS in Oklahoma City. Innovation is the key to improving your city.
So with all of that being said, it is extremely important that once you set your goals, values, and vision you stick to it. Obviously, if you decide that you want to run for the mayors office in Evansville and you don't have any ideas, goals, or vision, you are in big trouble.
For this reason, Evansville is now becoming a dying town. Since the 1960s, Evansville has watched town after town steal its residents. These residents leave to go to other cities because they have lost all faith, will, and trust in Evansville's political leaders. After all, why live in a city whose only goal is to produce political careers and fortunes and not improve the lives of the local residents? There is no doubt that we need a change in political mindset and attitude here.
To me, that change starts by electing candidates who refuse to be a puppet to the Republican or Democrat Party. Currently, the Vanderburgh County Democrat Party has the mayor's office and an 8-1 advantage on the Evansville City Council. Although they have the power to make a tremendous difference here in Evansville, they have sacrificed this power for the comfort of group think.
If you watch and listen to our local candidates, you will notice the following...
1. Most of them don't stand for ideas. Instead they fight for whatever their political party wants them to fight for.
2. Most of them don't form their own opinion on issues. Rather, they follow their party leaders in order to advance their own political career.
3. Most of them don't even care about the issues , how to solve Evansville's problems, or any projects that can improve Evansville. The only reason they run for office is to advance their own political career ( which they call an "opportunity").
I don't know about you, but I refuse to fall victim to these fallacies. I refuse to throw my own beliefs, values, goals, and visions under the bus for a little comfort from the group think community. Sooner or later, we are all going to die. When that time comes, do you want your city to know that you stood up for what you believed in or what your party told you to believe in?
For those who want to advance their political careers, if you can't stand up for what you believe in here in Evansville, what makes anyone think you would stand up for yourself in Indianapolis or Washington, D.C?
My goals and vision for Evansville is the following...
1. Finally get the 2001 master plan complete
2. Support high speed rail and oppose I-69
3. Save Roberts Stadium
4. Completely overhaul Garvin Park & restore it to the days of Baseball's Golden Age
5. Fight for the strongest smoking ban possible.
6. Advance Evansville & the ideas that I have on my 3 blogs as well as set up a message board (which I'm doing right now) for Tri-State Tomorrow.
Here in Evansville, there is no doubt that I have ticked off just about everyone in town with one of these 6 goals. But the truth is, like Karl Rove, Mitch McConnell, and Grover Norquist, I don't care. I refuse to cave or compromise my vision to a bunch of bureaucrats or misinformed citizens who simply have no vision or no belief to fight for.
I also believe the day that all of our political leaders adopt this mindset is the day you will see the pall finally lifted from Evansville. The truth is, if we don't have any political leaders who are committed to getting any projects completed here in Evansville, how are we ever going to develop the will power to get anything done here?
If we want to see progress here in Evansville, we better start electing politicians who have a vision. It's that simple!