Highway superintendent candidate’s neighbor says he is hard-working

Posted 31 August 2015 at 12:00 am


Neighbors can be a blessing or a curse. Neighbor-relationships have provided rich fodder for TV comedy from Gladys Kravitz on “Bewitched” to Wilson Wilson Jr. on “Home Improvement.” I know a guy who got stuck with a nosy neighbor next-door: me!

For 13 years, I have observed when he goes to work, when he comes home, what he does on his days off, who comes over to his house, and so on. This has afforded me an unprecedented opportunity to draw certain conclusions about this person. It just so happens that this neighbor has decided to run for Albion highway superintendent, which now has turned this neighbor into someone whom I, as a tax-payer, will essentially be hiring to work for me.

While I think he’s a very nice guy and I would consider him and his family more than just our neighbors, it does not always follow that I would be willing to pay certain friends (or even family members) to work for me. I work hard to earn the money I make, and I pay a great deal in taxes with the understanding that the people who have been elected into office will provide as honest a return for my money as my employer demands of me.

I am subject to semi-annual job evaluations and as an employee, I must adhere to the rules and standards which have been set forth by the company, including showing up to work on time, staying for the duration and being productive during that time.

I work in a professional environment where there are strict rules about appropriate employee conduct, including demeanor, dress, and language; a place where my personal opinions about our customers, my colleagues and superiors have no place. I have been hired to serve the interests of the company and in return I am compensated accordingly.

Our elected officials and public servants are no different. They have been hired by the tax-payers to serve the interests of the public. Elections are the only opportunity we have to conduct our own job evaluation of the incumbents and candidates.

Voting is the equivalent of choosing whose pockets are most deserving of our mandated tax dollars. I have friends who are great fun to socialize with but whom I would never consider hiring to manage my financial affairs or provide childcare. And no matter how much I may like them as a person or how desperately they may plead their case for needing to be hired because they need the money, it would be tantamount to idiocy to entrust them with such a responsibility on such irrelevant grounds. They (and I) would be better served were I to help them find a job for which they were better suited.

Sadly, such rationale seems to be in short supply when it comes to political elections. For some, it’s a popularity contest, for others it’s an opportunity to perpetuate cronyism and repay dubious favors. But hope always springs eternal that there are enough astute and reasonable voters who recognize that the elected candidate will not only be benefitting the voter personally but will have the interests and demands of the entire community at heart.

Thus, we return to my neighbor. I have to decide whether he has exhibited the qualities of a person who will be diligent, honest, ethical, hard-working, impartial, sober, professional, and qualified to assume the role of Highway Superintendent.

Can I trust him to put in a full 40-hour week of work (and more when necessary)? Will he endeavor to create a positive and productive work environment through leading by example? Will he conduct himself professionally and privately in a manner that will honor the office to which he has been elected? Will he treat (and serve!) everyone with respect and impartiality, refusing to allow his personal opinions and feelings to determine his conduct.

Bottom line: Will I be getting my money’s worth from this neighbor? After 13 years of nosiness, I can say with all confidence, “Yes, Mike Neidert will deliver all of that and then some!”

On Sept. 10, please join me in putting our hard-earned dollars to best use by choosing Mike Neidert for Highway Superintendent.

Maarit Vaga
“Nosy Neighbor”