Today is Monday, December 22, 2014

A belated list of Thanksgiving

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I had hoped to write this column for last Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but circumstances beyond my control took over my life. So please forgive me as I give thanks for many things – a week after this truly American holiday.

I’m thankful for the best mother a girl could ask for and that her cardiologist successfully inserted a new stint in her heart after finding a 90 percent blockage in an artery.

I’m thankful that my husband is my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my harshest critic (with love and constructive comments) and that he has beat cancer twice.

I’m thankful that I found my forever home in Wilson County on a little patch of land that my four-legged children love to roam and explore daily.

I’m thankful for a family that remains close despite the hundreds of miles that separate us and for those who are able to join us each year on Thanksgiving Day.

I’m thankful for three, very diverse and interesting freelance jobs that allow me to use the various skills and knowledge that I’ve learned throughout the years.

I’m thankful for every person who has ever said an ugly or hateful word to me and for the friends who have turned their backs on me for it has made me truly appreciate the gifts of kind words, love and support of true friends.

I’m thankful on a personal level for so much more, but space prevents me from listing them. But they range from those who grow the food I eat to those who make the clothes I wear and those whose job is to get these items from the farms and factories to the stores and those who stock them.

I’m thankful for the medical personnel who strive to keep me healthy to those who wait on me at stores and restaurants to those who build the things I use daily as well as the buildings I enter and the roads I use to travel from here to there.

In other words, I’m thankful for the countless individuals who by simply doing their jobs well make my life easier and better in countless ways.

I’m also thankful for politicians from the local to the nation level because without them there would have been times in my career I would have had nothing to write about without them!

Seriously, though, I am thankful there are individuals who are willing to give of their time to seek and hold elected office, despite it often being a job filled with more criticism, than gratitude. Whether I agree with the positions or votes they take, I am thankful that they serve and strive to make our cities, counties, states and country better today than it was yesterday.

I’m thankful for those who serve the public through their positions within the various levels of government as public employees.

These individuals are not elected and more often than not make less money than their counterparts in the private sector. And by virtue of their positions, they often must stand quietly by while citizens unload their anger or frustration on them.

Which leads me to one such public servant in particular – Wilson County Finance Director Aaron Maynard.

It was a letter Aaron read to the Budget Committee last month that prompted my thoughts for this column. In response to an article I wrote where I interviewed District 8 Commissioner Frank Bush about his thoughts on county government, Aaron spoke passionately about what his job is as defined by state law and how he sees his role from a philosophical point of view.

In my nearly 30 years of covering politicians and public officials, I have never heard anyone speak with such passion about his or her role as a public servant. Aaron’s delivery of his letter moved me to my core.

Working with him over the past several months, I have found Aaron to be nothing but honest and open about any issue I have had a question about. Trust me when I say how refreshing this is compared to my past interactions with some finance directors.

Aaron’s main concern with the article was the following statement Bush made: “I think he’s [Maynard] hesitate to provide an opinion unless he’s specifically asked. I suggested to him, ‘My goodness, man, you’re our CFO. You’ve got to provide an opinion before we spend the money, before we vote. You’re the objective pro. You’ve got no axe to grind.’”

As Aaron read in his letter, “It is my role to be sure that commissioners understand the essential elements of the arrangement and the financial impact (as best it can be determined). It is not my job to lobby for or against … (anything). … Doing any of these things undermines my credibility as a professional adviser to all 25 commissioners.

“You can count on me to tell you the truth without telling you want to do. To know the difference between them is, in my mind, one of the most crucial parts of the job. … If you want to know my personal opinion on an issue, I will usually share it with you. However, it is just that – my opinion.

“If you ask, I will assume that you are interested in my point of view regardless of how you ultimately vote. If my opinion is one of several you seek, I am honored. But it is never my intent to tell you how to think.”

Thank you, Aaron, for your passion, your candor and your openness. You make Wilson County a better place to live.

And, last, but definitely no way least, I am thankful for a God who loves me, who has guided me through troubled waters, who gives me strength and comfort, supplies my needs, and who watches over me along with my Daddy from heaven above.

Happy belated Thanksgiving everyone!

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Aaron Maynard, Amelia Morrison Hipps, Down Home Politics, finance director, government, politicians, Tennessee, Thanksgiving, The Wilson Post, Wilson County
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