Jill Dame is Executive Director of Leadership Jacksonville. In this Op-Ed she explains dynamic role of Leadership Jacksonville and its role in politics.
In November 1966 a local grand jury released its report on local government abuses in Duval County. Eleven public officials were indicted including four city councilmen, two city commissioners, and the city auditor. The presentment offered a long list of recommendations. Included in the list was a suggestion that we “instill honesty and morality in the conduct of public affairs and restore confidence in our public officials.”
In 1968, after much citizen involvement, Jacksonville entered a new era of consolidation. In 1974 a three day Jacksonville Community Planning Conference was held under the leadership of Chamber President Fred Schultz at Amelia Island Plantation with 100 citizens present. Ten community priorities were reached agreed upon by those present.
The vision of the Conference didn’t stop there. Those present realized the need to stimulate the growth of leadership in the community. It was important to prepare local business and civic leaders to do more for the region – to become more active in civic affairs.
Leadership Jacksonville (LJ), an independent 501 (c) (3) organization, was created in 1976 under the guidance of Fred Schultz, to become the vehicle to stimulate growth of Jacksonville’s community leadership.
All LJ programs have a common basis:, a well-rounded understanding of major community issues and assets is vital to being a community trustee. Our classes spend a lot of time hearing and seeing Jacksonville’s issues and assets. It is also important that leaders represent the diversity of the community – not just diversity like race and gender – but include different neighborhoods, occupations, socio-economic status, etc.
LJ released a new mission statement this year: Leadership Jacksonville educates, connects and inspires diverse leaders to build and strengthen their communities. This clearly defines what happens in our programs.
What does LJ have to do with local politics?
There are a lot of ways to make a difference in our communities and our graduates have an impact throughout northeast Florida. We hope that many of our program graduates will be inspired to put their names forward and run or become appointed to local office – and many have. Our list of alumni includes those who have served at the federal level like Corrine Brown, Tillie Fowler, Brian Davis; those at the State level like Jeff Atwater, Mia Jones, and Jay Fant; those who served in local office like John Delaney, John Peyton, Mike Hogan, and Michael Corrigan. The list is extensive and in most election seasons there are candidates who have participated in LJ programs.
What have they learned in our programs?
LJ has a list of core values that we believe is critical for community leadership, especially for those who put their names out for election. LJ graduates value:
• Ethics - we believe in ethical community trustees, and ethics should be a core value of any candidate.
• Knowledge of community issues and their complexity – if you don’t know the issues and recognize their complexity, how do you find answers?
• Diverse leaders sharing their perspectives – working together we find better answers.
• Creation of a shared vision – not my vision, or yours, but ours
• Action taken for the greater good – all decisions should be made with an effort to serve the greater good, not just self interests
As you look at candidates in our upcoming elections – I encourage you to look at this list of values. Is the candidate ethical? Do they understand the issues? Are they willing to accept and value our community’s diversity? Do they seek a shared vision? And finally, are the actions they favor those that serve the greater good?
Using this list of core values, ask the candidates questions, get answers, and above all – go vote for candidates who show that they want to be community trustees.
Jill Dame is a featured discussion leader at TEDxJacksonville's next salon on Excellence in Government. The salon is on May 9, 2015. More info on the link.