Political experience shouldn’t be a prerequisite for public office

To the editor:

A few weeks ago, we had several local elections in Missouri and I read many people arguing that candidates or elected officials, even at the lowest political level, should be politically experienced individuals.

I strongly disagree with the assumption that, as a rule, experience is a good thing and inexperience is a bad thing. Experience is not a guarantee of lucidity and it is not even a guarantee of speaking and acting for the best results.

Another “rule” lots of candidates or elected officials use to justify their run and their success is their residency history. Making the residency history an unofficial rule that should be followed as a prerequisite for a political run is a clear attempt to discourage people who can’t claim such history.

That argument is odd at best — especially in a world where work mobility is valued in a very difficult market. It pretty much tells new residents who are passionate at heart with public service to put that passion on hold until they spend a “reasonable” amount of time in the area they seek to be elected. We must wonder what is a reasonable time of residency: five years, 10 years, 20 years?

There are people out there who are politically inexperienced, but are savvy, committed to making their towns and country flourish using common sense, who hold a high interest for public issues, are passionate to be of service, to help and improve lives of others.

Very often, experience is acquired while on the job, hands-on, because this is the very best way to get access to resources, information, contacts and a position one wouldn’t otherwise have, to solve practical problems.

Successful professional working experience should be seen as a fully reasonable antecedent of an individual’s political potential.