For now, I#039;ll have to decline

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

We all reach a point in our lives when we have to stop and wonder, "What's next?"

For me, that time is now.

I've always been one whose interest in politics has dominated a lot of my conversations. Even in high school, there were friends who thought I was the one who would be the most likely to run for political office.

As most people who read my column can tell - my friends in high school probably had that right.

Just not right now.

You see, as an editor of a newspaper, it would be irresponsible for me to run for a political office - at least at this time. There are too many factors out there that would not only jeopardize any sort of campaign I could mount, but jeopardize the credibility of my position at the newspaper.

I remember learning in my eighth grade civics class with Elmore Lewis at Andalusia Middle School, and then again in my twelfth grade government class with Mike Jones that there are public and private citizens, and that depending on your station in life, a person was one of the two.

I didn't quite grasp the significance of those lessons until recently, when I started considering what might lie ahead for me - and any potential political future I might have.

As editor of a newspaper, I'm in a very unique position in that I work in a very public arena, but lead a very private life.

The sheer nature of my job makes me a public citizen by default, although I like to keep things regarding my family, friends and daily life as private as possible.

As an editor, it is my responsibility to question the actions of other public citizens - mayors, city council member, county commissioners, other elected officials - and business leaders. It's my job to inform the individuals in this county when things happen - with a non-biased approach.

However, it is also my responsibility to educate to the best of my ability the citizens of this county on issues that could affect them for either the better or worse. That's what I've tried to do on the tax referendum we all voted on yesterday.

There are those who say the newspaper should never voice an opinion one way or the other on issues.

I used to be one of those.

But, as I grew older and realized more and more the importance of the newspaper in being an educational tool to inform the public, I changed my opinion over time.

There are also those who say that newspapermen shouldn't be involved in political campaigns.

That's probably true, but it's not going to happen. Some of the greatest statesmen in America were newspapermen. Remember Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton?

The point is this, there is a time and place for those with political aspirations to announce them and follow through with them. For me, this simply isn't the time. I've worked hard to get where I am now, and I can't let a future dream affect that. Right now, I would have to respectfully decline holding a political office - although I will not lose the goal. I will, however, remain completely objective in the light of situations until such time as I see needed to voice my opinion.

I still have that burning desire to fulfill a dream to work in the political arena, and one day, I will follow through with it. Just not right now.