Part II, My Opinion Sometimes Gets Me in Trouble
I didn't finish my thoughts and opinions last time and the message was already too long. So after mulling it over the last couple of weeks, I have decided to finish my thoughts.
After my last message I received over two hundred responses, not counting the number of people who stopped me in the grocery store or Wal-Mart. Email and FaceBook messages poured in from around the Country. I heard from attorneys, Judges, current and former prosecutors, State and National Legislators and many, many local citizens. When I sent it, I wasn't sure how it would be received, but from the response, the majority of people agreed with the majority of what I said. I only had three absolute negative responses out of all of the correspondence. Some said they didn't agree with all of my thoughts and opinions, but was glad I put them on paper. I am sure there are others who disagreed but as I said, that's ok. I listen carefully to the three people who voiced strong disagreement with me. I even understood one of their points. It didn't totally change my mind, but caused me to think, to consider their view point.
One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately is people not doing what's right. That doesn't mean we are not human and that we all don't make mistakes sometimes, but I believe if our attitudes and mindsets were about doing the right thing, our Country wouldn't be in the shape its in. I'm not just talking on a National level, even in a State or local level I believe decisions are too many times made by what is popular or what is in the best interest of the person making the decision, not what's best for their city, county, state or country.
I am by no means perfect and God knows I have made more than my fair share of mistakes. In 2007, the Sheriff's Office was faced with a huge controversial issue. My staff and I had discussed the issue for months. We firmly believed we needed to move forward with an issue, knowing it might not be popular with everyone. After months of meetings and a lot of prayer, the decision was made to go forward. Sitting at dinner with my wife, Karen, she listened as I ran all of the pros and cons of the issue. She and I had been discussing this for months and now it was decision time. Karen asked me if I would make the same decision if it ended up costing me the next election. In other words, if I knew I would not be reelected the next time. I answered that yes, my staff and I felt so strongly it was the right thing to do, I would do it anyway. She promptly said, ‘let's roll up our sleeves and get to work then'. Several battles, ups and downs, budget cuts etc. , we now know three years later it was absolutely the right thing to do.
I think politicians too many times want to get elected so they say whatever they need to say to make it happen. They make promises that they will be the ‘voice for the people' and represent the ‘people' in their decisions and votes. I am very leery of any politician who uses the words ‘always' and ‘never'. It tells me that are not using common sense in certain decisions. In fact just recently I heard a politician, who is currently campaigning for office, say he would never ever vote for a tax increase, no matter what the circumstances. He immediately lost my vote and my support because even though I feel we are overtaxed now, you should look at each circumstance carefully. To say never... well I wont vote for them. I would much rather have someone in office who had common sense.
Truthfully I think the majority of time elected official's decisions and votes are pretty routine. I am amazed though when a controversial issue comes along, they cave in. Not all, but too many don't listen to the people who put them there. They are more worried about getting reelected, friendships and favors, deals that have been cut, or at times even their own party politics instead of listening to their constituents and standing up for what is right.
I guess after reading my last message and this one it might look like there is a higher purpose. No, I am not running for, nor looking for any other office. I love my job, or at least 95% of the time (smile). With a great staff and great employees, we have accomplished a lot, but there is still several more goals and things we would like to accomplish. I guess I am just frustrated by what I see in all areas and all levels of government. I had just finished testifying for a bill in front of the State Legislation. Just before the vote, one member got up and walked out. I later asked one of the Senators why and was the other Senator didn't want to have to take a stand by making a vote. He walked out to not have to vote. Now don't get me wrong, we have some great people who represent us and they do what's right. Having worked closely with our local legislators over the past 6 years, I am proud they are willing to take a stance. If I could be granted one wish, it would be that every elected official, from the school board member, Sheriff, County Judge, Legislator, to the President of the United States, would stop, pray earnestly, and make their decision, their vote, on what's right for the people they serve and they represent. That doesn't mean I, we would always agree, but if we could know that this thought process is what went through their hearts and minds, I know I could live with that...
I will probably hit a nerve with someone with this message. I am not arrogant to say my opinions are right. I say again its ok to disagree with me. Disagreement can be healthy if done with a positive attitude. But if it does hit a nerve, I would simply ask them why...
Sheriff John Montgomery