Letter: Leaders need balance of passion and compassion

Published 10:00 pm Monday, July 30, 2018

What does it take to serve well? It has been my privilege serving the people of Albert Lea for over 25 years — 12 of those years as one of your elected officials. Thinking of what first drew me to service, I find the same inspires me now to serve as your next mayor — passion and compassion. I believe, to truly serve, a leader must possess both. Webster’s defines passion as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Passion drives many aspects of life. One can be drawn to public service due to passion — passion to see certain things happen in the community or on behalf of certain people. Passion is important and, in fact, necessary when serving the public. However, passion is not enough. Passion alone can cause leaders to lead out of emotion. Passion alone can lead to emotional spending. Emotional spending leads to purchasing or building things that are not immediate needs. Passion can lead us to think we have to have everything right now.

Compassion is defined as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” In public service, compassion must accompany passion. Compassion causes leaders to take into account the quality of life of everyone they serve. Compassion balances passion and causes leaders to lead well. While passion says do everything right now, compassion says let’s take a common sense approach and schedule purchases, investments and buildings in a way that does not break our local taxpayers. Compassion takes into account the 30 percent of our population who are seniors, and 22 percent of our community who are disabled, many of these on fixed incomes. Compassion realizes the median household income in Albert Lea is $42,128. Compassion considers the loss of our full-service, acute care hospital and its impact upon the most vulnerable — our seniors and children. With such issues, compassion drives a leader to speak out and act to affect change on behalf of our community. I offer passion and compassion as your next mayor.

My plan:

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Prioritize — focusing on the right needs at the right time. This includes focusing on supporting our local established businesses first, growing our community from within, recruiting new businesses with living wage jobs and supporting recruitment of additional healthcare options.

Preserve — appreciating what we already have. Included in this are preserving and growing our local business tax base, addressing blighted housing and neighborhoods and fostering pathways for our youth to remain in our local workforce and community.

Progress — growing together into our future. I propose pulling together city council, county commission and school board in open public forums to address future needs and strategizing together how to identify, fund and schedule needed projects. I also envision developing a council-driven rather than administrative staff-driven organization.

As a leader who cares about you, I believe I bring a balance of passion and compassion on your behalf. I have a proven record of common sense leadership, and I ask for your vote in the Aug. 14 primary.

George Marin

Albert Lea