I do not want to write this letter. I tried not to. Now I feel I must.
I feel the need to address the two-part letter from Sgt. Willoughby. This is not personal; I have no ill feelings for Sgt. Willoughby. I just feel like there are some important points to be made in light of the things he said and his ambition to be our association president.
I didn’t initially read Willoughby’s first letter, but I heard a lot about it. When I heard deputies talking about it, it was generally in a good light. People seemed to like it. I asked a handful of people what they liked about it. Generally, they liked that he expressed the same frustrations they felt. After listening I asked this question: What solutions did he offer? Any next steps? Any ideas to start changing the things he’s complaining about? Did he offer a new vision? And above all, did you feel uplifted and encouraged after reading his letter? The answer to all was, “No.”
So, I eventually read the letter myself. It was pretty much what I had heard. A lot of complaining; very negative; nothing even close to a solution or remedy offered. No talk of a vision for what we can be or should be. No, “Here’s where we need to go.” No direction offered; not even in the most general sense. Just a lot of bitterness. I actually found irony in him criticizing our membership for complaining to E- Board members and “bitching” to friends, in a letter which was nothing more then him complaining and “bitching”.
Today I read Part Two of Willoughby’s letter. He wants to be our president.
Let me pause here to make one thing clear: This is not a campaign letter. I have been offered a nomination for president and respectfully declined. I have no desire or intention to run for association president or any other position. I see retirement in my near future and will not do what our last two presidents have done.
I don’t want an association president to tell me how bad things are. I don’t want him/her to tell me what’s wrong. I don’t want him/her to tell me how awful and incompetent management is. Complaining and pointing out what’s wrong is easy. Anybody can do it and everybody does.
I want my association president to be solution oriented. Someone who doesn’t just see WHAT is wrong, but WHY it went wrong. We all can see what is wrong. Digging down to see why or how it went wrong is not as easy. Our president has to be able to do that. I want my association president to be a collaborator. Someone who knows the strengths of our members and pulls people together to solve problems. Someone who has the desire and ability to build relationships with the sheriff, chief deputies, county commissioners that would make them want to work WITH us, not against us. THAT is the key role of the president. Not to be a “tough-guy.” The executive VP is the heavy. The east/west VPs are the assistant heavies. Our constitution lays that out with the duties of each office. The president is a bridge builder. Our ambassador. He or she should be well respected by the members, our management and the county commissioners. Someone that those people will want to work with. Will take calls from. Will even reach out to.
I will end with this: You deputies who are young in your careers need to identify from among yourselves who you want to lead you. Truly lead you. Not just sit in a position. Someone who will get out front and create a vision for what this division can and should be. Things are not good now. They’ve been good in the past and they can be good again. This used to be a fun place to came to work. It can be again. You have to have the right kind of person to lead that movement. Not the loudest complainer. A true leader is an uplifter and an encourager. That is what you need!
I see those people amongst us. When I look around I see people like Nicole Buscher, Ryan Fitch, Jeff Crowe, Seth Cordell, Martin Jackson, Ben Mortier, Quonisha James, Amy Richardson. These are some of the people that I see who possess the attributes our president needs. There are other great people out there in our membership, for sure. That’s just a short list. And there’s other positions to be filled.
Don’t let the loudest voices among you bully their way into these positions. Especially the president. I urge you all to really think about the type of leader you want to guide your association into your future. Then identify individuals, encourage them to run and nominate them.
Deputy John Plock