Politics is a game and money talks loudly in this game, especially at the local level. Small town politics can be more complicated because so many people know each other in so many ways. What one person sees as a friend helping out a friend, another person sees as influence peddling and buying a politician's vote.
There's no such thing as a free lunch, and a favor given today is given so it can be cashed in later.
It's a game many company representatives and real estate developers know and play well. And it pays off, whether it's a contract pushed through despite ethics concerns, two decades of unquestioned commissions, or a shiny new shopping center.
Recently, our commissioners found themselves in a pickle on a major vote because there was the perception they were influenced by would-be campaign contributors.
In order for transparency to be evident, we suggest that all elected officials disclose any campaign contributions in a timely manner before taking a vote on contracts or zoning decisions. This would at least let voters know what influences might have gone into any decision.
If voters don't like that decision, they have an opportunity to make that known in November and choose elected officials who they feel reflect their opinions and values.