The Park Record editorial, April 7-9, 2010 |

The Park Record editorial, April 7-9, 2010

Today's politics could use a little more pioneer spirit

When a power line was felled by heavy snow last week, cutting electricity to about 800 homes in South Summit, two Francis Town Council members and the mayor decided to walk their neighborhoods.

No, it wasn’t campaign season. They weren’t stumping for votes. They just wanted to make sure everyone was weathering the outage safely.

It took utility crews several hours to fix the power line while a wet heavy snow continued to fall. In the meantime, Francis mayor Lee Snelgrove and council members Tal Adair and Kristi Major went door to door with offers of candles, batteries or whatever was needed.

Major laughs recalling that some people thought she was the one asking for help. They were definitely surprised, she said.

Well, think about it for a minute. When is the last time your elected representative knocked on your door? Chances are it was in late October and he or she was armed with campaign pamphlets and promises. But in April, in a snowstorm?

In an era when public service is so often dominated by complicated taxing and zoning decisions, it is refreshing to remember that the core mission of a town council is to care for its citizens.

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Major, who is originally from Flint, Michigan, remembers that whenever there was a serious snowstorm there, a few hardy souls would dig out their snowmobiles and go from house to house checking up on residents. That’s how the pioneers survived, she added.

Francis, she says, is a lot like that. "We are still very old school and still small enough to look out for each other."

Snelgrove, Major and Adair knew several people in their area could have been in jeopardy without power, among them a senior citizen on oxygen and a family with a new baby. Everyone was fine, though — warm and well fed. But perhaps that personal visit from an elected official left them a little less cynical about local government.

Granted, most political jurisdictions these days are too big to cover door to door on a snowy night, but there is a lot to learn from these three politicians who haven’t forgotten that there is more to running a town than showing up for meetings.