Over sharing is a nuisance when we’re talking about friends or coworkers.
It’s a virtue when we’re talking about the people we elect to represent us.
Months of panels, debates and yard signs culminated last week at the ballot box as voters selected the people who will make decisions on our behalf during the coming years. They are important choices that often steer future policies that impact us all.
No matter the platform each of those now-elected officials supports, we have one simple request for them all: Remember who you serve.
That’s not meant to be glib, or a jab at anyone who occupies elected office now, will be sworn in soon or has served in the past. No, it is a reminder, an urging, to all who act as our surrogates in elected office to serve us all by conducting our community’s business in view of their constituents.
We admire those who choose to run for public office, raising their hand to sacrifice time with family, or pause their careers to spend time helping steer the institutions that are paid for by and serve us all. They expose themselves to occasions of extraordinary criticism. And they volunteer their decisions for substantial scrutiny.
It’s in those difficult times, when weighing in on a controversial issue might be met with backlash, we hope our representatives will take time to ground themselves in our advice.
We have heard many elected officials in recent years commend one another for consistently making unanimous decisions. We have watched others lean on closed sessions or email conversations to hash out difficult discussions.
Many of those instances may be well-meaning oversights — products of groupthink, fear of reprisals or desire appear united — but none serve our community or constituents.
Transparent dissent is the hallmark of a well-working democracy. Think about it, the systems of government we revile most are the ones where disagreement is suppressed, where opinions do not flow freely.
So why would anyone want to emulate those behaviors?
There is a reason state and federal transparency regulations allow for a slim number of instances when deliberations are allowed to move behind closed doors. Trust in government is fragile, and decisions made in public view help ensure our collective confidence in those who govern on our behalf.
We hope our recently elected representatives and those already serving in local office will think about the values we all cherish in our democracy as they help steer our community forward.
None of us can expect to get what we want with every issue our representatives address.
But we all should hope the people we elect to public office will err on the side of sharing.