Commentary: Leaders must lead by example

This editorial appeared in The Tri-City Herald.

Dictionary.com defines "lead" as: "To go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort."

In this aspect, we want to see our elected officials do some leading.

Whenever people in charge of a group make a difficult request of the rank and file, it better be something they're willing to do themselves.

For example, let's say you are a Franklin County commissioner and you're facing a significant budget shortfall, which may run as high as $600,000.

If you decide the solution lies in asking the county's employees to take a 5 percent pay cut, you want to be the first one in line to reduce your own salary by at least that same percentage and not reluctantly agreeing to a cut later.

It's not the sort of thing that goes unnoticed in the trenches.

"We are willing to do something to try to alleviate this problem," said Yesenia Torres, president of the 52-member courthouse union. "But we want the administration to take the ride with us."

Credit the commissioners for not outright rejecting the suggestion they share the pain.

It's a little sad, though, that they weren't the first to suggest this inherently fair proposal. Sadder still that they've yet to fully embrace it.

Commissioners looked more like followers and less like leaders in this.

For the record, other county elected officials jumped on that bandwagon right away, indicating in e-mails to union leaders that they would accept salary cuts to match any the employees agreed to.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Tri-City Herald.