Monday, April 19, 2010

What makes for an effective elected official?

Guest editorial by Carl Johansen

Sandwich is entering another critical time in its history. So as we all prepare to vote for the board of selectmen and school committee, what do you look for that helps to make your mind up as to for whom you should vote?

Both elected positions have two openings and keeping with the democratic process every vote counts and no one, when they vote, should vote for only one candidate. If this were the days of the Bulger Brothers you would not have a choice, as you were told to vote for the hand picked person they endorsed. Those that employ a bullet vote to get a person elected into office, in my opinion, defeat the very meaning of democracy and the reason so many gave up their lives so that we all may have the freedom to vote in a democratic country.

What quality makes a good choice for me is someone whom is not only true to themselves, but to others as well. Honesty is a trait around which all the remaining qualities will revolve.

Is the person willing to take a chance and think outside of the normal channels to get things done? Do they have the inner strength to learn from their mistakes and acknowledge the errors in today’s world?

A good leader must have an understanding of responsibility and be willing to delegate that responsibility to others. If a leader is not willing to delegate, then in my opinion they do not have trust in fellow board members and when they are selected as chairperson fail to serve the common good of the group at large. This bond of trust becomes even more critical when problems arise that need the full cooperation of every member on the committee working toward a common goal

Another quality a good leader will have is an open mind and the willingness to listen to everyone before deciding the final outcome. Only the facts in a problem and not political forces should make the final choices.

Can that person set a good example to follow and be a strong unwavering voice as to how and why decisions were made? In other words, do not attempt to please both sides of an issue just to save face.

Experience comes in many ways, on the job and in one’s personal life. Every good politician learned on the job, none were born into it. Financial matters in regards to ones personal life are important, but being honest is more so. We are all equals and no one should ever be above another as free citizens. Experience is gained with an open mind to change and practical matters of common concerns that will guide us through the problems we all face as the board of selectmen or school committee.

Carl Johansen
A concerned citizen in the wonderful Town of Sandwich


  1. Good Morning MR. Hunt. I sort of was looking for the good folks that post here on occasion to provide a little insite, as to what they may see what characteristics help to make up a good leader of town government. What do you look for in the persons background and how they present the resolve to accomplish the goals they may set to help solve problems? Goal setting as every one knows is another strong characteristic that a good leader must also obtain, where would you place that on the priority list?
    Do they expouse goals that are not achievable just to shock folks or present achievable known facts that could be worked to a positive solution.?

    One thing a good leader never does is quite the task at hand when the problems seem the worst. That shows a person with no positive direction and no basic goal in place to combat all the negative forces.

    These are only a few more opinions, how about a few of my fellow Sandwich Towns folks opinions. It would also help to have you sign your name so we could have a nice discussion on leadership for the next century here in Sandwich

    Carl Johansen
    Concerned Citizen in the wonderful town Of Sandwich

  2. Mr. Johansen, I choose to bullet the ballot because I am free to do such. This is quite American.

    I think it is more American to suggest that everyone put someone's name as a wrie-in in non-contested races. Sandwich has two this year.

    Sorry Taylor, your poll folks will have to stay up late at town hall counting ballots if this happens which I suspect will not happen.

  3. The logic in the above post – “I am free to bullet” is both truthful and stunning. It’s truthful in the same way the claim: “I am free to wear my underpants on my head” is truthful. And, it’s stunning, much in the same way wearing underpants on one’s head would be stunning – because it’s simply wrong, it’s silly and it demeans the person doing it. Worse, bullet voting results in a shift of power to the remaining and fewer voters (and fewer votes) who cast votes FOR the “other” vacant seat. There’s nothing less “American” than consciously choosing to not vote and to empower someone else to elect your next representative.

  4. Bob given we are free country we can choose to do what we want when it comes to voting, however when the bullet vote is chosen it is not a very patriotic way to conduct a free election. Having grown up in the area of Massachusetts[Boston} where this type of thing was conducted to get some one elected is called being a coward. Let me explain some of the true meaning of bullet vote when it was cast. You see back in my early days when some one would come up to you and tell you to only vote for the person they hand picked to be elected you had a choice. The choice was two fold vote my way or find a bullet[fired from a gun]lodged in your body or you would simply find a watery grave along some water front. This was how those without a scruples were able to intimidate the flock. This is one reason how the Buldger Boys[ they were not alone]were able to control the whole state of Mssachusetts at one time and even today we still feel the affects of these Bullet votes.

    People of courage vote for what ever number is allowed and that is a freedom I and others have fought and died for. We are all free men and women because of these sacrifices, but if one does not have patriotic courage and backbone and are insecure in choosing mulitple candidates. Then by all means they should choose to use the Bullet vote, after all it is there right to do so. Keep the faith for in the end justice will prevale for that I am sure.

    This is just like those that use Donald Duck and Mickey mouse as write ins.

    Carl Johansen
    Concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich

    trol of so many

  5. My uncle, a WWII Bronze Star guy told me many years ago that he would not vote ever again because he fought for the right not to vote or vote as he chose.

    You call the person who bullets a coward? What about those who do not vote?

    If there are 20 or so folks on the ballot for Republican town committe person and you know only two of the 25 on the ballot, then what do you do? You could vote for 23 people you don't know or have a nice name or live in the "right" (no pun intended) part of town.

    I just think that if you think you must vote without a bullet, that's just fine. Do it!, but don't tell me I am a coward or would wear panties on my head. If it cowardly to bullet, then why is it legal? Do we have a town of cowards?

    In my opinion you all think that people have time to learn about candidates, but they don't or they just don't want to take time to vote, watch cable meetings, read local newspapers, or call up those who are running to talk to them. Yes, it is important to do all of this, but sometimes working, getting your children to where they have to be, helping with homework are more important at any given time. People are not as bright as Mr. Guerin or they are not as organized or they do not have the time of a retiree to do their homework.

    I think that you certainly have an opinion on what you should do, but please, please, don't tell me I am a coward or acting lie someone with panties on my head. I have a right to do what is legal, same as you do. You should advocate that the town change the law, or the state change the law and insist you vote for people even if you do not know anyting about them.

    I try to practice Catholicism. Every year they tell us to vote our conscience but remember the teachings of the church. What if all that are running are pro choice which means they can accept abortion, does that mean I should vote for any of them and go to hell?

    I don't wear panties, its cooler.

  6. Let me bring this back to leadership. Here is xomething for a town leader to chew on. What in the Wide World of Sports will this town do when this power plant closes? That piece of land occupied by an oil/natural gas burning power plant will be completely void of any structure and soon. What will this town do? What plan is in place to make up for the loss of appoximately three million dollars annually in tax revenue? What? What is the "great town of Sandwich" going to do other than become ghost town? Since 1953 this town has been talking about the Police/Fire builings have been built in a flood zone so do we think this town has ANY plan to offset the loss when the highest taxpayer in town leaves?

    all I hear are crickets

  7. Mr. Johansen, I need your help. I do want to be patriotic. If I understand you, if I vote for one of two choices that I might have, I am not patriotic. I do not understand why but also have to ask you for advice. I know only two of the candidates running for selectmen. I heard the debate and was unimpressed with all but the two I knew. One of the two, although hard working, does not share my views on most everything. The other I like and will vote for when I go to the polls. Should I vote for someone who does not share my views and thus nullify my vote for the person who does or should I vote for someone who did not impress me and I know very little about.

    I believe we all have the right to vote and it is a choice not a sign of patriotism. I fought not just for the right to vote, but for the protection of my family and country. I do vote always, but several times I did not vote for all the people running mainly because I did not know them. I am felling guilty and unpatriotic.

    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  8. I am the anonymous poster who wrote about voting for Republican committee people. I asked if I should vote for 23 I did not know; it should have stated 18. Not too smart of me!

  9. Interesting subject. If about 300 registerd voters attend town meeting, does that mean that about 14,700 registered voters are non-patriotic.

    If about 30% of the registerd voters vote in the election, does that mean that 70% of the registered voters are non-patriotic.

    I thought patriotism was love of country. Does that mean that if one bullets a ballot she does not like her country.

    If the people who do not vote or vote for only one candidate when they could have voted for two are non-patriotic maybe we should extend that to anyone who does not participate actively in town government are non-patriotic. Then maybe we can extend it to mean that anyone who does not vote Democrat is non-patriotic and so on and so on.

    All forms of voting are unfair to someone. If it is unfair to vote for someone you want in office and give him or her one vote over all the others exactly why is that unfair.

    Sign me as:

    Apparently not patriotic by your standard

  10. Good Afternoon Before every one gets in a tither about a bullet vote. We are all entitled to provide our own personal opinions on any subject matter as long as we do it with respect.
    We all come from different backgrounds and values. Some simply have different values when it comes to why we as free people vote our conscious. That is what makes our country so great.

    The democracy we live is because of those that provided us with those rights. We can do any thing we desire as long as it is lawful.

    The points taken above on your abstract bullet points are well taken, but that is not where I am coming from. No matter how many openings or candidates running is irrevalent.

    If the main purpose of your bullet vote [only voting for one candidate]is to skew the results then in my humble opinion you are not a patriot, nor a good citizen.

    We, who are of a free nation not only have a choice to vote, but an obligation and duty as well. That in my opinion is what a patriot would do. No excuses will change my thought process, only courage of your conviction matters in the end.

    My comments do not direspect those who served honorably, only those whom use the bullet vote to purposally skew the results with malice.

    Carl Johansen
    Concerned citizen the great town of Sandwich Mass.

  11. Mr. Johansen, in my humble opinion, only you have direspected the many people who ARE patriots and WHO DO bullet the ballot. I have thrown a bullet and many people I know have told me they have. Some have been veterans, some have been town leaders, some have been volunteers, church goers, non church goers, working people, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, town department heads, police, teachers, dpw workers etc, etc, etc.

    I have no malice for your humble opinion, but the editorial would have been much better servered if you did not mention patriotic because by doing so, you have disrespected not only those who served, but also the good hardworking workers, citizens, and volunteers of Sandwich who choose to do what is allowed and legal.

    By the way, thank you for all that you do in Sandwich. I love you whether you bullet on not.

  12. the way, I do get into a tither when someone calls me a coward.

  13. Randy Hunt, Bob Guerin, and whomever knows:

    The Annual Report for the "Great" Town of Sandwich for the year 2009 indicates that there were 2,906 voters who checked in and out of the polling places.

    For the office of School Committee, there were a total of 8,718 votes cast from the 2,906.

    There were a total of 2,545 blanks. It is impossible for me to determine how many of the 2,545 were ballots that were totally blank (meaning they did not vote for anyone) or were bullets (voting for one of three) or maybe "partial bullets" (voting for two of three.

    I am not sure of what the math formula would be to determine (if at all possible) how many voters through full or partial bullets. But my guess would be that it is substantial.

    Although only two individuals on this blog seem to be against bullets, I would think that there are others.

    I can see why that would happen. A possible out come of that election would have been that Bob Guerin might actually have been the top vote getter (word?), but that some who would have voted for him might have voted for someone else; or Bob could have had more bullets and the others would have had less votes. I think you get what I am trying to say.

    If the above paragraph is true, then Sandwich may have lost a person who may have been more acceptable to more people.

    Instead of dwelling on the Patriotism of those who do bullet, we should be leaders or gadflys who work to change the system. That is true leadership and gadflyism!

    As an example of what I mean let us take the Selecmen positions.

    In 2009, there was one person running. No Problem with bullets except for the blanks. The blanks comprised of about 30% of the vote!

    In 2010 there will be two positions up for election.

    In 2011 there will be two more positions up for election.

    Perhaps those "experts" at town government that came up with people in one precinct voting for people in another or not being able to run for selectmen because their turn was not up during a particular year's election, the expertd might have thought about having each selectmen position stand on its own.

    If Selectmen positions stood on their own in 2009, there is not much we could do about those blank unAmericans, but neither could we if multile seats were open.

    If Selectmen positins were able to stand on their own for 2010 and 2011, we would have to vote for one person in each of two positions. This way we could cut down on the unPatriotic voters.

    From Mr. Johansen's lst post, it is clear that he does not understand that maybe some of the patriots may have bulleted, maybe, just maybe, they thought that it was acceptable because voting law allows it. If we Americans make the laws and live with the laws, not contesting them and trying to make change, would not one assume that that it might be acceptable to bullet?

    Let's not talk about Patriotism with respect to this issue, but rather to how we can fix it if we think it is wrong.

    Mr. Patriot

  14. Mr. Patriot: The dynamics of bullet voting are pretty easy to understand when there are two open seats and more than two candidates. If your favored candidate ended up in third place (i.e., did not win a seat) and your second choice took second place (i.e., did win a seat), then your second vote could have been the one to launch the winning person past your favored candidate.

    That's the reason some people choose to bullet vote. I have no problem with it. It's a strategy and is allowed by our voting rules.

    You could flip it the other way. Say that there are three people running for two seats and you really do not want one of the three to win a seat. You would clearly vote for the two other people, whether you knew anything about them or not, just to give as many votes as possible to the opponents of the person you want to lose.

    A bullet vote in this situation would give the person you don't like a better shot of winning a seat. Wouldn't that be fairer to the candidate you don't favor? Would it be more or less patriotic?

    By the way, Provincetown has a board of selectmen tied to specific seats on the board. So your idea about people running for a certain seat is in practice there. They have a bigger board, nine I think.


  15. Hello again,

    I once again read Mr. Johansen's post. I believe that the most important item to him was what would for an effective leader. It was so upsetting for me to be called unAmerican after all I have done that I lost sight of what he was trying to say.

    I very much believe in what he said were traits needed by a leader. I would just like to add a few more.

    1)The leader must always be transparent especially if that leader is a chairman. If there is an instant motion on an important item leaving no time for final public input, it is wrong.

    2)A leader must questin the top managers that come before them. They must not always accept what they propose.

    3)A leader in the School Committee or Selectmen must never be surprised by actions of the managers they oversee.

    4)A leader should always be responsive to their constituents. When they disagree, they should not direspect the citizens of Sandwich by not responding to their concerns (even if they feel the citizen is all wet). This by the way, is true of a majority of both boards. I have the unanswered emails for the past four years).

    5)True leaders know when to compromise and are ot afraid to say they were wrong.

    6)True leaders support alll the citizens without respect to their title, age, and circumstances.

    7)True leaders do not make a rah rah show at their meetings as one of our two main boards does every meeting. They tell us what is good, but never discuss the bad in public.

    Enough said. My apolgies for mis-understanding your point, although I stand by my response.

    Mr. Patriot

    PS My name is not Bruschi

  16. Good Afternoon, Mr Patriot.

    The points you have made are well taken and I do appreciate your understanding of what makes for a good leader[ no matter if they are polically or business oriented} Leadership is something that is learned over time, as in my opinion leaders are not born that way. The values of the leadership role, especially when one gets into a chairmans position on any type of a committee which is parmount to succes or failure. A good leader is guided by strong resolve and listing to all sides of the issue, before making a desive decision. We all[no matter who]will make mistakes as leaders, but do we learn from the mistakes and learn the lesson it offers to help make us a better leader and have the courage of our convictions to work for all of the people, not for just some of them. That is the litmus test for a strong leader to keep all discussions based upon working as a group, no matter how mqny members may be in the group.
    In my opinion, We here in Sandwich do still have severel true leaders among our citizens, however on the other side we have those that are serving themselves, more than the good folks of Sandwich.Naming names does not provide any positive feedback, but outlining qualities we all see as important character leadership goals can lead to some resolve in assisting some to vote or not vote for a particular person. I will finish by stating for me it all begins with the truth and if the person is truthful not only to others, but to themselves as well.

    Carl Johansen

    A concerned citizen in the great town of Sandwich

  17. A previous poster paints the picture of the imminent demise of the tax base here in Sandwich and you guys are talking about the virtues, or lack thereof, of bullet voting. A six million dollar proposal to shine sneakers (town owned building repairs) sums it up.

  18. The writer who commented about the "six million dollar proposal" either has not seen the police station, fire station, Wing school, or, if she has, does not understand how it is necessary to maintain good working buildings to avoid future and costly fixes that most probably are not long lasting.

    The last thing I wanted was for more bond issues after we paid off the elementary schools, but that is the way of town government. Like or leave it, I understand Siberia is not too cold in the summer.

  19. Mr. Hunt,

    Concerning your post of the 23rd, I do bullet, but only when necessary. For example, I plan to vote for Ms. Crossman for school committee with a bullet. The reason is that there are two people running who I do not want to see on the committee again and as for the rest, I really do not know enough about them. I will never vote for anyone if I am not sure of what they stand for or their opinions and experience are not known to me.

    It's not so much that I like or do not like to vote with bullets. To me, it is whether or not that is patriotic or non-patriotic. I am offended that someone would call someone else non-patriotic because of voting with a bullet. To me it is not material if it is legal. Maybe the patriot who espouses voting for candidates he may not know about is patriotic, then so be it.

    There are many forms of patriotism. There are also many forms of non-patriotism and bulleting is not one of them. Mr. Johansen is a well-meaning man who knows his stuff. I just think he is dead wrong. I suspect that in the last school board election there were at least 30% who voted with a bullet. My guess is that many of them served or serve our great nation.

    Mr. Johansen, in my opinion, should just say that he thinks that the bullet is unfair, not that it is unpatriotic. He should then strive to implement a change in our charter to allow for electing by seat rahter than by mass. If it works in Provincetown, it can work here.

    By the way, the Provincetown way seems to be very good.

    Mr. Boston Patriot

  20. When I see a candidate with supporters on the side of the road I give them a bullet wave. Afterall, they are giving me a bullet wave aren't they?

  21. Good Morning MR. Boston Patriot. One could say that each of us set our own standards as to how we vote and even the reasons why we may vote. An informed and concerned citizens will take the time to understand each canidate that places there name on any ballot for a particular office. To do otherwise, for me is not doing due diligence to the process. We try to place the best[in our opinion]canidate or canidates into a position where upon we feel they individually or together hopefully will perform with a positive outlook that will serve all of the people they represent. Perhaps you may reread what I did post in regards to my version of a Bullet Vote and understand we all come from different backgrounds and different motivations. If you are offended by my termonlogy as an affront to you personnally that would not be the case. Understanding a bullet vote is a legal way to circumvent the process,however it does not make it morally and ethically correct for me, a citizen whom takes great pride in learning as much about each canidate running for an office, prior to voting. As an American, who has also served his country with honor, I would be remiss in not placing an X along side however many spots are available for that particular opening. These are my values as part of a leadership role upon which this topic started. You may have served our country with honor and you may have a different value. That is your right as a free person of this great country.

    If free people do not take the time to objectively investigate all those running for an office, we, in my upbringing and experience have failed this process to keep our country a free democratic nation under God.

    You also must look at what my referance as to what a bullet vote represented and perhaps you may better understand from my perspective it was a vote whereby you were told to only vote for one person in an election at the risk of not doing so meant you would meet the grim reaper. History has shown us that when you are told to use your vote only to benifit the power in force at that time, we all lose our freedoms.

    The casting of these types of Bullet votes for me will allways be unpatriotic and this I am unwavering on. Our laws allow us to burn our symbol that represents our country, but does that make it morally and ethically correct. I would take a bullet to help prevent some one from dictating to me who I could vote for, just to accomidate a wrongful moral power in place.

    The beginning of this subject matter was called what qualities make good leader and it is with in that context I have attempted to explore the values I see from my experiences in life in regards to using a bullet vote.

    Can I get an Amen

    Carl Johansen
    A concerned citizen in the wonderful town of Sandwich

    GOD Bless America

    Carl Johanse

  22. I can't recall bullet voting, myself -- I like to leave none of my votes uncast -- but it doesn't seem an unreasonable strategy in some scenarios. If two candidates are running as a bloc for two seats on a board, and a voter strongly disfavors the bloc, doesn't it make some sense for that person to vote only for the other candidate?

    In any case, what seems "silly" to me (and especially unwelcome from a candidate) are all these pronouncements about whether or not people are voting as patriotic Americans should. Leave people alone, already.

  23. Mr. Johansen, I knew Mrs. Susko, I worked with Mrs. Susko, believe me, you are no Mrs. Susko.

    James Michael Everett IV

  24. Could he be Mr. Susko?

  25. Only if he does not wear a Jeff Perry T at town meeting.


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