Santa Clara University

undefined
Bookmark and Share
 

Her Honor

Back to Blog

What If You Won An Election And Decided Not To Serve?

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012

Why run for office if you don’t plan to serve?

That is the question I asked when I read about a journalist who launched a write-in campaign for school board -- and won. When South Jersey Times online editor Jim Cook, Jr. “half-jokingly” asked his friends through Facebook to write him in for a position on the local school board, he said it was because he found out that only one candidate had filed. He used Facebook and Twitter in a 24-hour period before the election, and only after winning did he realize that he would have to resign his newspaper job in order to serve on the school board.

I have read and re-read this story and I’m still baffled. How could he not understand that he would have a conflict of interest if he took office? Did he think running for office was a “lark” that would have no consequences for the voters or the other candidates? And how could he be so glib in his response to the voters: “I hope I haven’t let you down, and I’m sorry I cannot accept this position. I can, however, throw a victory party. And you’re all invited.”

It is even more distressing to hear his rationale. “I wish I could (take the position), but I have to take the ethical route here and make the best decision for my career and the South Jersey Times – a job and company too close to my heart to put in jeopardy.” What about what is best for the voters?

The story ran on Jim Romenesko.com, a blog about media, so most of the comments are from reporters and editors. I want to know what you think. Did he do anything unethical in running for school board? In resigning just after winning? Post your comments here.

 
Subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner