Govern versus administer | News, Sports, Jobs


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The people have spoken. New faces will soon be joining many local government teams, making it a great time for our elected officials to take a close look at how their local governments work.

Members of these teams need to develop productive relationships with each other, with their officials, and with people living in their communities if they are to hope that the government will work for all of us. It is an essential element of governance.

Equally important, they must understand that there is a big difference between governance and administration.

Elected politicians are expected to rule. It involves making strategic decisions regarding laws, policies, rules, regulations, government sponsored programs and projects.

Governing takes a long-term view of the pros and cons of a problem and ends with a collective decision. It offers structure.

Civil servants take care of the administration. Most are appointed officials. Administration involves the implementation of decisions taken during governance. He manages the day-to-day business of the government. Administrators make things happen.

Simply put, governing bodies set the rules while administrators enforce those rules. Good governance ensures the well-being of the citizens of the government. Good administration helps achieve the goals set by the governing body.

Problems can, and often do, arise when governing bodies begin to interfere with or micromanage those working in administration. Some set unreasonable expectations. Others belittle their employees. Elected officials have even gone so far as to demand that public servants do unethical things or break laws.

To avoid problems, elected officials must understand their role and responsibilities. To be responsive to local needs, they must pay attention to their constituents and reliable data before making decisions. They should involve the local population and a wide range of stakeholders, including engaged citizens like those found on the Local Economic Development Committee of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. They must also listen to their employees, especially when the latter are responsible for implementing the decisions taken by elected officials.

Creativity may be in demand, but energy and civility are always required. Elected officials should strive to cooperate, leaving their political affiliations aside, avoiding divisions and rivalries at all costs. They must strive to achieve consensus without fighting or debating issues for so long that everyone loses sight of a reasonable solution. They need to set realistic expectations and empower people without demeaning anyone. In highly functional governments, people work together on practical local possibilities. They work through bitter disagreements. Ultimately, they never lose sight of the fundamental values ​​and principles enshrined in our Constitution.

Just like businesses, local communities must evolve and develop. Public servants need to take the time to assess what is working well and what could be improved. They must be forward-thinking and action-oriented. They should focus on the practical problems that their community can and should solve. They have the power to improve our communities.

It’s time to embrace a hopeful future.

Congratulations to those who have just been elected. By working with their employees, our elected officials can bring about the positive changes voters elected them for.

Patty Hammond is Economic Development Coordinator at the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The local economic development initiative is a standing committee of the foundation. Send your comments or suggestions to [email protected]

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