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Posted: May 17, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Politicians need thicker skins and real commitment

I have always, as far back as I can remember, had a fascination for politics.


For the 33 years of my 50 years in the newspaper business, I have published or owned a newspaper. During that time I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some very interesting politicians, some I still see every night on the news speaking about one issue or the other.


Bob Filner, the recently disgraced apparently sexually challenged mayor of San Diego, was my congressman in the early 1990s when I published papers in San Diego.


I had no idea he had such tendencies, but I would have if I had listened to my administrative assistant who told me on many occasions that when he looked at and talked to her she felt like she needed to take a shower.


In the 1970’s I actually ran for office in Elizabeth City, N.C. I felt I was on my way to becoming the John Kennedy of North Carolina. I actually came first in a three-person race, knocking an incumbent out, and was on my way to greater glory except for two bad decisions.


I had secured the African American vote and had many professors at Elizabeth City State writing speeches for me. So when the local paper, for which I worked, asked in its interview with me and my opponent, if elected would we reopen the local pool — which had been owned by the Elks Club and was closed because of desegregation — I didn’t hesitate.


My friends begged me not to answer the question directly; I felt I had made a commitment and I had to. My answer was yes. There went a great deal of votes.


My opponent, who had at one time been the local police chief, lived in a conclave of Republicans. I ran as a Democrat. Actually almost everyone was a Democrat in those days. I spent no time knocking on doors in that district. The night of the race, as we listened to the radio, I had a lead of 380 votes with only one district to report.
Of course it was the one with the Republicans. As we were popping the corks, the last district was reported. I lost that area 384 to 2. There went my John Kennedy hopes up in flames.


A lesson learned — always ask.


I still to this day have not gotten over that race.


I describe all of that to say this: the politicians of that era sometimes drank too much and some were crooks, but almost every one of them took care of their constituents and took the time to be with them and listen to them.


There have been many times in my career that I have had heated discussions with some of these older politicians almost to the point of blows, but always we ended with a handshake and sometimes that very day worked on a project together to better our community.


Many of the politicians we have representing us today, although they don’t drink and in most cases are not crooks have thin skins, do not feel they have to answer to anyone, can’t take criticism and rarely are seen in the districts they represent.


What we need in this election coming up Tuesday are some people who have the conviction to stand up and tell us what they really think and if elected, what they intend to do for us. Unfortunately there are just a few who meet these criteria and that may be the reason why the voting turnout for this election is going to be the lowest in history.

 

T. Pat Cavanaugh is the publisher of The News. You can reach him at 770-787-6397 or pcavanaugh@covnews.com

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