Elected Office is Not for the Faint of Heart

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson I’ve heard it said that if it weren’t for politicians, lawyers would have no one to tell jokes about. Politicians are generally considered to be a rotten bunch. I think we can agree that we have all seen our share of stinkers. They are easy targets for all the woes of society, from economic catastrophe to crummy weather, and I imagine we’ve all been guilty of throwing a stone or two.

That being said, there are some good eggs holding office out there. In Gulfport, I can name four of them right now: Vice Mayor Liedtke, Councilmember Salmon, Councilmember Brown and last but certainly not least, Councilmember Fridovich. The last 11 months have been the most collaborative, productive, professional and, dare I say, enjoyable months I have spent on council since my first day on board in March 2009.

This council runs the gamut of partisan politics, we disagree often and vociferously, we have differing priorities and ideas, we have a diverse mix of supporters and opponents, and we come from spectacularly different backgrounds and lifestyles. In spite of all that, we manage to work together to resolve our local issues. We manage to find some common ground in hopes of representing our constituents to the best of our ability. I know we cannot please everyone, but the folks on the dais work hard to use their skills, talents and energy to serve Gulfport in the way they believe best. I am proud to head this council, and look forward to continuing this trend.

As to the stone throwers? It is a hazard of the job, and one that public servants must be prepared to endure. Elected office is not for the faint of heart. It is also the duty of our citizens to call us out if they believe we are doing them a disservice, and we appreciate those who engage this discourse with respect and candor. Often the media can be our harshest critic, and again, that comes with the territory.

So I say this to my council: One person cussing you out in the parking lot, one person blasting you during public comment, one person insulting you in an article, one person blogging rumors online is still the opinion of one person. Keep on trucking, be true to yourself and your residents, and do the best you can for the good of Gulfport. On the days when it seems that you haven’t pleased anyone and no one is pleasing you, even when it is your fellow council members (including myself) causing the heartburn, know that I appreciate you all and the work you do.

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