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Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Brighton Mayoral Race - Job Performance Matters

In the real world of the private sector, after one has been on the job in their chosen professional career long enough potential employers look at a candidate's job performance as the primary criteria for deciding whether or not to hire. For example, consider an applicant for an engineering position with thirty years of demonstrated superior skills and job competency. The employer is not going to care too much, if at all, what the applicant's GPA was or even what their degree was in, or even if they have a degree. In most cases this information will probably be verified, more as a check on the character and honesty of the applicant more so than as an indicator of whether or not they can do the job.

This same principle can, and I maintain should, be applied when voters select someone for elected office. A long time incumbent has a public record and documented job performance that can and should be the primary metric to judge whether or not he or she should be returned to office. Their private sector or other previous elected office record may reinforce the conclusions drawn from an examination of their record in office or indicate how the performance could have been predicted, but really is of little consequence in the retain/replace decision. The office holder either has performed well in office or has not. It really doesn't matter how the skills, or lack thereof, to do the job were developed or acquired as the on-the-job record can speak for itself.

Conversely, a challenger to the incumbent, particularly one who has not held elected office before, can and must be judged on their life and career experience as it is usually the best objective criteria available to decide whether or not the he or she deserves to replace the incumbent. There are of course other criteria (appearance, associations, charisma, demeanor, public speaking skills, etc.) that can be taken into account, but these secondary parameters for the most part do not indicate a lot about whether or not the candidate is up to perform as needed in office. They can certainly bolster or detract from the overall assessment of a candidate's suitability for the office, but are moot points if the candidate is not capable of doing the job.

In the case of our current Mayor Steve Larson, it's obvious that after ten years as Mayor and twelve more as a member of the City Council that he is not capable of doing the job. At the last candidate forum it was clear that he was intimidated by Dave Jacobsen's impressive private sector resume and pathetically attempted to convince the audience that his private sector career as a route salesman for Ambassador Sausage qualified him as a "small businessman". He also intimated that in a previous position at Gilllette he learned all about abatement of chemical contamination. Larson's "look at me, I have private sector experience just as good as his" pitch was comical, like that of a puppy jumping up and down on its owner looking for attention.

My point in this is even if one assumed Larson's portrayal of his private sector expertise was valid, it would still not change the fact the he has failed miserably on the job that he is seeking to retain.

After watching his performance for the last twenty-two years it is clear that he doesn't know an Excel workbook from a Teletubbies coloring book when it comes to finance and budgeting. He obviously did not know a lot about eminent domain and the trouble it could get a city into. He was often the leader on what has been proven to be the wrong side of majority votes on a variety matters concerning the Northwest Quadrant. During his tenure on the City Council and as Mayor the business climate of the city has deteriorated considerably. Just how many more chances does this clown expect the voters to give him to show that he is up to the duties of the job?

Dave Jacobsen's record of success in the private sector demonstrates real world experience and expertise in dealing with the same types of problems that Mayor Larson and his cronies in city government have created for New Brighton through their arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence. Mr. Jacobsen has had to deal with environmental remediation and government regulations while working within the constraints of a limited budget. The difference is that if Jacobsen had shown the inability to deal with the problems that Mayor Larson has he would have been forced to seek employment elsewhere, or at the very least been demoted.

Over the years Mayor Larson has managed to hang on to his job through uncontested elections, poorly run or under-funded campaigns against him, or getting just enough of a plurality in a multi-candidate election. He has proven to be political survivor in that he has managed to take credit for many of the good things the City of New Brighton does (e.g. public safety, parks and recreation, community programs, etc.) that really have very little, if anything, to do with the responsibilities of the mayor, regardless of who occupies the office ("Mr. D" has recently posted a good analysis of this over in his 'hood, as well as some thoughts regarding the job qualifications of the contestants).

The question to be answered in the New Brighton mayoral election this Tuesday is actually pretty simple: will the city and the taxpayers be better off with new leadership that has a proven ability to successfully deal with the sort of problems the city currently faces, or staying with the current bumbling leadership that has caused many of the problems and has allowed others to get worse through its inability to effectively deal with them?

The answer should be pretty obvious. Dave Jacobsen has a resume that indicates he is capable of successfully leading New Brighton through the tough problems that are ahead. Mayor Steve Larson has a twenty-two year record of ineptitude on the job he is seeking re-election to that demonstrates that not only is he largely responsible for many of the problems the city faces, but has also shown he is not up to successfully dealing with them.

It's time to end Mayor Larson's reign of error. Vote for Dave Jacobsen to be the next mayor of New Brighton this Tuesday.

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