Brian Withnell Speaks
[The following was submitted by Republican candidate for nomination for Clerk of Court Brian Withnell. Withnell lost out for the nomination to incumbent Clerk Gary Clemens at yesterday's convention.]
Now that the contest is over, I'll actually make some comments.
First, I wish Gary all the best. In fact, I hope--very definitely hope--that the problems in his office are over (and they might be). I hope I also had a part to play in that correction.
Now, why run. From a very strict point of view, the running is just part of who I have always been. Not that Loudoun County would ever know it. I used to live in Maryland many years ago (where being a Republican was equal to having no voice in politics) and still managed to work toward moderating the liberal bent there. I happened to have worked in Maryland political circles many years ago, mostly on an issues basis. Bethany Christian Services got a lot of work from me helping them establish a home for unwed mothers. I set up the Annapolis chapter's computers for them (and donated computers to them). I worked in Wicomico county with the local Life Line Pregnancy Center in much the same way. I worked with the College Republicans in Salisbury.
Why not around here? First, when I moved here, my wife became pregnant soon after. When the child was one year old, my first wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and for the next 3 1/2 years, my focus was helping her. After she died, it took a lot out of me, and I was a single Dad. Try that with 3 children for a while. It is busy.
Then I met a wonderful woman, and we married. My top priority in this world was then integrating her into a family of five. After that, we had my second, then third son (that's right, we have five children in all).
At this point, time is just now starting to be something other than "already taken" by higher priorities. Oh, sorry, I believe all those things are in fact higher priorities--disagree if you wish, but you never have to worry about me doing something for ulterior motives.
Now again, why choose to run for this office? First, I really do believe Gary had done a rather lame (at best) job. His record speaks for itself. I love the fact that he stated he had two clear audits from the accounting office (he actually had three, the first one was the first year he was in office--the errors were not left over from the prior clerk, the prior clerk had clean audits at the end of his term, and Gary's first was clean also). The fact is that it takes time to get things into a mess, and the audit I cited was almost three years into his term. So just from the standpoint of audits, out of the seven years he was in office, he had only three years that were "okay." The first was okay (from the prior clerk's work) and the most recent two. What that says to me is that he mismanaged the office for at least 4 of the prior 7 years. 3 of 7 right (at best) is a failing grade in every math course I've taught.
But why run? If you aren't willing to be part of the solution, you don't have any right to complain about the problem. I was willing to run for two reasons. First, I really believe I could have done a better job. Believe it? That is a little weak. I know I could do a better job. It may have been a lot better for me to become involved sooner, let myself be known more, put in an appearance for a year or so ahead of time. But that isn't what I thought I could do at the time. And guess what? This only opens up once every eight years. I certainly hope Mr. Clemens doesn't repeat his prior performance (i.e., do poorly for five years, followed by getting his act together at the last 2 prior to election). I threw my hat in the ring the only time I could have, and while that did not allow for a thorough campaign, it will have at least made it plain that people do care about his performance.
Would I run for a different office? Perhaps I would. But I would want to know that I would be able to do the best job of those that are running. That said, I also have to admit that part of the job (getting a nomination, and then being elected) is not my strong suit. But then, I have always thought that while that is the most important part of actually getting the job, it may be the most contrary indicator of who is best for a job. (For example, Clinton was elected easily, but I certainly think he was one of the worst people for the office of President yet).
As I said before, I wish Gary Clemens all the best. He is unopposed in November, so he should sail into another eight years. I hope I don't have any reason to run for that office again.
P.S. as a corollary to not being able to complain if you aren't willing to be part of the solution, I now have earned the right to complain. :)
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