This is the season when many village elections take place in New York State municipalities. And elected officials and candidates of sound character are on the minds of the voters. It was Booker T. Washington who said "Character, not circumstance, makes the person." And we say excellence in leadership descends from good character. Most importantly, the rank and file voters seem to agree.

Recently, the Associated Press-Ipos poll found that 55 percent of those surveyed considers honesty, integrity, authenticity, and other values of character and competence as the most important issue to voters. And this appears to be the case if the candidates are running for a position on a local municipal government body, a school board, or for a position at the state or national level. Secondly, the public wants to support candidates who have a passion for matters which need to be reformed. The public wants to see reform on matters that are just plain wrong, or are not working, or functions that are in serious need of realignment or reformulation. The voters want to see "wrongs" corrected, incompetence eliminated, over spending ended, and wastefulness brought to a halt. They want to see honesty and transparency in government and authenticity on the part of our leaders.

We believe the most important trait for a candidate is to be authentic, in other words, "to be truly one's self". In fact, great leaders, at whatever level of government, must know themselves so they can be themselves. For what lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters as compared to what lies within us. The public will figure out very quickly one who is less than a genuine individual. And thus, as is the level of authenticity so is the level of confidence one has in that individual.

We believe that leadership begins and ends with being genuine. Being artificial as a person is abhorrent to the voter. Authentic leaders are interested in empowering the people they lead rather than being interested in power, money, or prestige for themselves. They are guided by ideals, passion, knowledge, and principle. And when their principles are tested, they refuse to compromise. Authentic leaders use their natural abilities and sense of values as a compass. At the same time, they recognize their own shortcomings and work hard to overcome them. They lead with knowledge, purpose, principle and honesty. Authentic leaders build enduring relationships with people, because they recognize that they are OF the people, brought to where they are BY the people, and render service FOR the people.

President John F. Kennedy said it well "Courage, not complacency is our need today. Leadership not salesmanship is what is required." To put it bluntly, we are right to demand character of authenticity of our leaders. It was John Locke who said "The discipline of desire is the background of character....for the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." In effect, when authentic character is lacking, the public will loose confidence in that elected official and thus, her or his "leadership" is pitifully ineffectual.

Today we look for good managers in positions of leadership. But, in the minds of the voters, it goes beyond that. Good managers are people who do THINGS RIGHT, but leaders... with good character... are people who do the RIGHT THING. Good leaders do not command excellence, they BUILD excellence. To reach excellence one must have a profile of authenticity and courage. And a person with that sound quality possesses solid core values and principles. These principles should be based on a "belief in the individual" and resultantly grounded in trustworthiness, fairness, respect, and responsibility for mankind. The person of character shows drive, tenacity, self-discipline, and consistency in thought, willpower and courage.

We believe that public service is a high calling that is grounded in personal values rather than market values. It involves looking out for the collective best interest of all, rather than a narrow interest of a few. Public service should attract people who desire to maximize their 'self worth' rather than their 'net worth'.

We believe that authentic character is required in all walks of life. If one's walk is that of a student, a teacher, a farmer, an economist, a media personality, a physician, a mechanic, or an elected public official ... it is being genuine that counts. Indeed, nationally and locally and certainly on Election Day and every day thereafter...authentic leaders makes a difference. When all is said and done, we believe that people, not material things are America's greatest resource. And individuals who are truly genuine are America's greatest treasure. That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.