I am an independent but I lean conservative. I’ve never voted a straight party ticket because I want to choose who I think will do the right job for the position. I don’t necessarily care which party he or she belongs to and I don’t have to agree with him or her on every issue but I have some definite ideas about what makes a good politician. 

In my view, it is important politicians recognize the problems we face; they have the guts to do something about them; they have knowledge of global issues; they will be good stewards our tax dollars; and, perhaps most importantly, they will listen to those they lead.

One of my observations is a lot of people in leadership tend to want to surround themselves with people who are like-minded and do not challenge the status quo. Those people tend to insulate leaders from other points of view and this leads to the perception of a lack of transparency from those being led. Lack of transparency will make people suspicious they are not being given the whole story.

For example, people wonder what was discussed between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin when there are no official notes from their meetings. It gives the vague impression the two leaders are hiding something from their citizens — whether that is true or not — and it builds distrust between those elected to lead and those they are supposed to represent.  

Local politics and leadership are not immune. We elect leaders to move us forward. But this cannot be done in a vacuum. It is imperative the people know where leaders see the future and how they propose to get us there while at the same time acknowledging the challenges and limitations that can impede our progress. This is especially true in Alexander City right now.  

The recent leadership of Alexander City has seen the city take on debt to buy and develop a new center for government operations. The citizens were assured this was necessary due to aging infrastructure, would make city government operations more efficient and would be impressive to those who may seek to do business in Alexander City. This decision was not based on public consensus but appeared to be put forth as a done deal. This is not transparency in government.  

People feel deceived when there is a lack of transparency. The long-rumored Publix deal fell through and while it is likely because of the poor demographics of the town, leadership brushed this off without specifics. We do not know what incentives were offered. Did the city officials ever think to set up a meeting between Publix and the citizens to urge them to consider us? Personal appeal can go a long way.  

What people want is transparency at all levels of government. Much gets talked about at the national level but it is just as important at the local level. No one wants a paternalistic government that tells people what they need without considering what they want.  

Elsie Hickman is a Lake Martin resident who is a regular columnist for The Outlook.