In my last column, I started discussing what qualities I’ve observed over the past two years of public service that make for a good leader.

Since the Globe won’t run a column that fills up an entire page, I decided to break it up over three columns leading up to Election Day. Previously, I talked about how a candidate needs to approach the position with humility, knowing that there is always more to learn.

People working to better themselves are typically also trying to better their surroundings. I also asked you what traits you look for in a candidate. Here is what Casey had to say.

“I try to understand the candidate’s motive. I believe there are two types of people that run for elected positions, those who do it because they truly care and want to bring improvements to our community and those who run for a particular reason based on their position in a job or other factors.

“I like to see leaders have community involvement. I think it’s important as a leader to be available, transparent, and open to gathering input from all citizens in our community. If you ask each candidate face to face, ‘Why are you running?’ ... their answer will typically give you a feel if they are a politician or an Atchison County community member who cares about our community.”

Thanks for your comment! Motivation is also the biggest determining factor in who I vote for. Why is this person running for commissioner, school board, senate, or dog catcher? Is it about serving the community or serving themselves?

As I work with other elected officials across the state it becomes obvious who is in it for the wrong reasons. Some are trying to climb the political ladder, some are in it for the title, and some are trying to grease the wheels for their personal gain.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not exactly a revelation that elected officials can be the worst. The news is filled with bad examples every night. So how do you weed out the good ones? For me, it’s all about service. We want to vote for candidates that are going to serve us, so why don’t we look at the service they did before they were candidates.

Did they volunteer at a park? Do they do service work with their church? Do they try to improve the lives of kids? If a candidate can point to a history of volunteerism they will almost certainly have my vote.

As Atchison looks to grow we need commissioners that are invested in that growth. Every candidate will tell you what their goals are. My question is what have they done to further those goals before now? How have they contributed to the solution?

If they haven’t done anything then chances are they are just paying lip service. Are they going to work for the community outside of the Commission meetings every other Monday? I want a commissioner that will be hands-on and actively improve our city. Not just order someone else to do it.

Not all aspects of service are equal in my eyes though. If a candidate can only point to serving on a board as volunteering it shows that they aren’t really invested beyond giving up an hour of their time once a month. I want leaders that devote their energy to Atchison, not just a minimum effort.

Look for commissioners that will pitch in, and have been pitching in. If they haven’t done it before now then what is the real reason they want to be a commissioner? Let’s elect candidates that want to serve us, and are already doing it in other capacities.

Tonight, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., most of our candidates will be at the Project Atchison Candidate Meet and Greet. This is your opportunity to meet them in an informal location and have a real conversation with them. Ask them about their past volunteer efforts. Some people have service at their core.

As we are deciding who to vote for, let’s try to find those candidates. The ones that aren’t interested in the titles but genuinely want to make their community better.

Shawn Rizza has served as a City of Atchison commissioner since January 2018, following his election in November 2017 to a four-year term. His colleagues voted for him to serve as mayor at the first meeting of 2019.

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