"If you want to know how I will serve on College Township Council, know that my actions and decisions will always be driven by Values and informed by over 30 years Experience in business and education."

An obvious question is “why are you running?” and then, “what will you do when elected and how will you do it?” The answers are strongly rooted in both my personal and professional history. I have spent the past 20 years in sales and management roles for one of the largest technology companies in the world. In that role, I work hand in hand with educational leaders at all levels - school district, college/university, and government - to help transform teaching and learning. At the same time, my wife Regan and I have raised three kids and established our lives here in Centre Region. My hope is that when you understand a bit more about where I’m coming from and who I am, you will understand my approach when I join the Council.

Why I'm running

My campaign mission at first seems rather simple and straightforward: “To serve the best interests of the entire College Township and Centre Region communities.” However, unpack that a bit and several key concepts emerge. The first is to "serve”. I believe that real leadership is rooted in service. It is an honor and a privilege to be entrusted to lead and to work for the good of others. When elected, I will carry that sense of purpose and responsibility with me every single day.


The second key concept is the “entire community”. This essentially means always maintaining balance. A balance that serves the needs of every member of our community by embracing a holistic and inclusive view that takes everyone's interest into account. Business and commerce; family and individual; recreation and environment - all are critical for a thriving, sustainable, and healthful community. This sense of connectedness is also reflected in an appreciation that College Township is one partner among many within the Centre Region. My ability to work collaboratively to build and maintain strong, enduring partnerships will serve me well in this effort. 


We are stronger together. There is no “us and them”, there is just “us”.


The last phrase I want to highlight here is “best interests”. As we can all plainly see, this is a time of tremendous change at every level: local, national, and global. Some of these changes are welcome, but many are not. There are many critical issues and decisions facing our community. The key is carefully determining our own priorities and which are worthy of new or ongoing investments (a topic discussed in detail below). This obviously includes maintenance, infrastructure, and public services but it also includes the environment and public resources, policies, and programs that help provide the best quality of life for every member of the College Township community.

What I will do and how I will do it

“What” is difficult to deal with up front because it is so heavily rooted in the specific details of each issue. Given that one of my guiding principles is keeping and open mind, I will resist, at least for the time being, a laundry list of positions. However, it is again important to point out that several important decisions are looming that may affect the character and quality of life in our community for a long time to come.

So let’s instead dig into the “how” of my approach to serving on College Township Council. My experience in business and as a husband, father, and friend will light the way. My deliberations and actions will always be driven by VALUES and informed by EXPERIENCE. The primary relevant values in this role are Fairness, Investment, and Community while the elements of experience that are most important are a focus on Solutions, Communication (especially listening), and finally, what I call the Power of an Open Mind. 


Core values or principles are always closely tied to the “whys". 


The first, Fairness obviously requires taking into account the needs of all stakeholders. The best solutions are those that serve the community as a whole. That is balance and equity. That is fair.


The second value is Investment. A crucial first step of effective investment is establishing priorities. We have all created budgets for ourselves or our families, and maybe even our businesses. The first step is always carefully identifying all needs and wants before deciding to do or spend anything. If we are fortunate, then we can do anything - but we can't do everything. Wise investments pay for themselves many times over, and over a very long time.


We also tend to think of investments purely in monetary terms (such as taxes and spending) but there is much more to it. Investing includes how you spend your time, attention, resources, or anything of value. That said, as your elected representative I will be always be mindful of my responsibilities when spending someone else’s money. Yours.  


The third value is Community. I want to help create a community where every member feels they are important and that their individual needs are being heard and are taken into account.


Let's look at what may be called business skills and lessons.


The first element is a dogged focus on Solutions. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my career immersed in the challenges of designing and developing strong, sustainable solutions that address the needs of multiple, and often complex, competing interests. Success depends on collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. It also requires compromise, which I believe is not only incredibly important but badly misunderstood. Compromise is often seen as both sides "settling for less" just to get agreement and move forward. While it can sometimes mean that, done right "compromise' can also be much more. The best compromises are those designed to take into account the needs of the greatest number of stakeholders. Decisions and plans forged in that environment can often be vastly better than any of the competing initial proposals. Obviously this isn't always possible, but it always worth trying. Compromise and effective negotiation require hard work, attention to detail, and determination but the results can both surprise and inspire.


Of course, you can't forge solutions without strong communication skills; the most important of which is listening. While it is important to clearly articulate your point of view, it is equally important to focus on understanding the perspectives and opinions of others. As Stephen Covey put it: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. The smartest people I know don’t talk a lot, but they always ask the best questions. 


Effective communication also requires honesty and transparency. You may disagree with me, but I will always be clear about where I stand and why.


All this leads to my final success principle; a belief in what I call the Power of an Open Mind. We all have preconceptions, along with a natural ability to quickly evaluate and categorize every person or situation in our lives. This is a highly developed and evolutionary adaptation that was (and in many ways still is) important for survival. However this ability can also work against us, especially when it leads to bias. Our biases are rooted in personal experiences, education, and beliefs and they can act as a barrier to understanding. Being open to new information and perspectives is a key to sound judgement and decision making. 


Cultivating a habit of open-mindedness not only leads to better decisions but it also ties together and amplifies all the values and elements we’ve talked about. Each is important, but together they provide the foundation for the pursuit of the best possible solutions for the entire community.


© 2019 by Paul Takac. Paid for by the candidate.