My grandfather was a John Wayne kind of guy. When he came into the room it was just like The Duke entering a saloon in those westerns. You knew he was there.
A World War I Naval veteran, he spent the depression working as an engineer on projects across the globe and across these United States. When he retired he bought a ranch in West Texas.
West Texas is not a real kind place. The unbearable weather beats on you, the dry gritty land rips at your face and your soul, and a lot of the critters like to chew on you.
Still the ranch was a great place for us grandkids, even though we were sometimes thrown into the work headfirst. The ranch was a nice place in spite of all of the hardships and hours of toil.
My grandfather used to say the place is what you make of it.
On Friday, July 9 the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce will host a candidate’s debate at the downtown Dawson County Middle School.
The Government and Community Affairs Council of the Chamber of Commerce has worked hard this year to improve upon the previous debates/forums.
Still, as the chair of the council, I have been approached by voters and candidates alike commenting that the local debates are a waste of time. I find that a sad commentary on local politics and our democratic process.
West Texas, Dawson County, Georgia and the United States are what we make of them. That family ranch didn’t start out as a paradise by any means.
Day after day my grandparents woke before the sunrise to work that land. They moved boulders, built miles of fences, constructed buildings, tended cattle and sowed the land. The ranch got better because they worked to make it better.
There are a great many things that Dawson County will face in the coming years. While the recession might technically be nearing an end, we face what appears to be a slow recovery. There are still huge challenges and the decisions that stand before this county. The choice of whom we select to help make many of those decisions is critical.
Deciding whom to select comes from listening, learning, discussing and then getting out to vote.
The U.S., whether you are on the red side, the blue side or the tea side, has the best system for electing our representatives. Part of the system since our founding days has been to debate and listen to all of the candidates for office.
The July 9 debate will be what you make of it.
For voters, it is a chance to shake the hand of the candidates, listen to them and make up your mind. That action requires you first attend the debate and second to have an open mind. You get what you vote for.
If all you plan to do is vote for your sister-in-law’s, cousin’s kid because their family; then you get what you put into your ranch so to speak. Dawson County deserves your best thinking and effort when casting your vote.
For the candidates, the July 9 debate is an opportunity to express your ideas and work to convince people you are best for the position. You get what you put into it. If you are just there because the other candidates are, then you are no better for the job than they.
On the other hand, if you work at it, you just might find yourself elected to help all of us build a better ranch.
The chamber has put a great deal of effort into trying to make the July 9 debate of value. It is now up to the voters and the candidates to make of it what you will.
Charlie Auvermann is the executive director of the Development Authority of Dawson County. He is also the chairman of the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce’s Government and Community Affairs Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.