Elected officials must represent their constituents

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

All too often voters throughout the country find themselves guilty of electing representatives who may be questionable in their service and loyalty to the very constituents that elected them to that office. This becomes a proliferating concern when you have a large number of people or groups becoming upset with an elected representative’s lackluster approach to keeping them abreast of pending issues involving their community or area.

Negligence by elected officials concerning involving constituents in vital changes affecting their lives is comparable to mutiny. Common sense dictates that when you have an elected official in your district that adamantly refuses to offer constituents transparency, refuses to return phone calls or is flippant about addressing your concerns about an issue that you have a problem.

Sometimes representatives don’t take individual concerns seriously, only opting to entertain or listen certain elite groups or committees who have more community visibility. You often find elected officials refusing to propose bills or advocate for the best interests of the community, regardless of community pressure. Their only retort seems to be dubious excuses that many find insulting.

Regardless of the elected official’s personal feelings, that servant is responsible for representing the concerns and views of the constituents that put them in office. However, we all know sometimes one’s moral compass may override the wishes of constituents when the elected official feels strongly that the objectives being sought are discriminatory, deceitful, or morally wrong. I would hope the elected official would try to persuade his or her constituents to reconsider or change their taken position.

Too many times we have candidates promising constituents their loyalty and uncompromising dedication to serve and represent them only to be elected and do a complete turnabout. The public is often deceived when you have people running for office backed by special interest groups, businesses, or financial backers with esoteric self-serving agendas. These backers are expecting the candidate to fulfill certain obligations if they win. Sometimes the desired objectives of backers are not in the best interests of the community who may elect the official. Many times the backers are not from the district the candidate is in. They have promised the candidate hidden rewards if the candidate wins and carries out their plans.

The public should be aware that politics can bring about unholy and unsavory unions; therefore, they should be cognizant of the backgrounds and motives of certain people, businesses and groups—especially financiers and developers supporting elected officials. Many elected officials are not transparent in their dealings, especially when offering information to the public. That makes it easier for them to be complicit in unethical dealings, compromising the trust of the people who elected them.

Elected officials must be held accountable and held to the fire when it comes to representing their constituents. Personality and likability can sometimes be deceiving attributes that allow elected officials to go unquestioned concerning pertinent liabilities making them less effective in carrying out their duties to the public.

It is a belief that most elected officials originally enter office with honorable intentions, but in time are seduced or corrupted by the relentless forces of the unscrupulous politics occurring around them. Eventually, many politicians are wooed by the tempting promise of money, power and self-serving amenities. This is obvious when you see people who have used their elected position to attain substantial wealth or elected people of wealth becoming obsessed with power. Truly working to better the community in the best interests of constituents should be the elected official’s primary goal.

Voters in the community could do a better job of personally screening candidates and discerning a candidate’s true objectives and motives. Once a candidate is elected, transparency should be required. Accountability is also a must in all the representative’s endeavors. The elected official should keep the community abreast of all issues pertaining to the community, listen to the constituents who elected them, and advocate for their concerns—proposing legislation if needed.

Adherence to following the wishes of constituents and prior job performance should be the best evaluation of whether an incumbent should be seriously considered for reelection. Sometimes we have elected officials who think the public is sleeping or is blind to their questionable or dubious service while in office.

A representative’s personality and likability can often be a deceptive flaw allowing a corrupted and self-serving person to stay in office. The public must judge elected representatives on their role in representing the communities who elected them. When we, the constituents, demand unrelenting representation and truly hold our elected officials accountable, then we will be better served.