A welcome change of plans

Published 10:39 am Saturday, November 20, 2010

OK, so in the spirit of full disclosure, this wasn’t part of the plan.

Going to work for The Tidewater News was definitely not something I had planned on doing. In fact, until a couple months ago, the thought of getting into the newspaper business wasn’t even on my radar screen.

But since I’ll be writing a fairly regular column, I want to get off on the right foot by telling you the honest truth about what my plan was, how I got to this point, and ultimately why I’m so thrilled to be here.

Several months ago, I started to consider the possibility of making a run for public office. Frustrated by the direction I saw our community headed in many respects, and seeing the need for fresh thinking, I thought that holding an elected position would be the best, most direct way to have a positive impact on my community. And let me tell you, I was really close to announcing my plans to run.

But as I considered my options and looked more closely at what I felt was motivating my desire to run for elected office, it occurred to me that what really intrigued me was the thought of running, and hopefully wining, a political campaign. Service to community was an important factor; it just wasn’t the only factor.

City halls, statehouses and Capitol Hill itself are already stuffed full of professional politicians. And ultimately, because I’d much rather be part of the solution than part of the problem we have in civic leadership, I decided running wasn’t a good idea. I decided that perhaps down the road a bit, when it is a better fit for my family and when I can look in the mirror and know purely the spirit of service motivates me, I’d revisit those plans. I’m very passionate about and committed to serving my community to the extent that I am able, and I want to do it the right way.

About that time, the publisher of this newspaper called and asked if I would be interested in joining his staff at The Tidewater News. While I was truly flattered, I was also surprised. It was a nice offer, filled with opportunity to grow professionally and expand my personal experiences in different directions. But what sealed the deal was when he told me — quite wisely, I believe — that I could conceivably serve my community in better fashion by working at the newspaper than by working in government.

And I think he was right.

I can give voice to my opinions about the direction our community is headed. I can share the ideas and the feedback we get from our readers. I can shine a light on areas in which we can improve and, more important, on areas in which we excel.

So in the spirit of service, here’s what I’ll try my best to do:

* I’ll be honest about my opinions and what my motives are for sharing them.

* I’ll discuss issues that are important to our community, not just because I find them important but because I know you’ll share with me what is important to you.

* When it is warranted, I’ll be critical of ideas and decisions, but I will do my best not to be critical of human beings making those decisions.

* More important, whenever possible I will shine a light on those in our community who are truly and selflessly driven by the spirit of service and are working to be a force for positive change.

There are lots of different ways we can serve our community, and so many of you do that on a daily basis. You will be my inspiration.

And by the way, while I had no idea this is where I’d be, I’m really glad to be here.

TONY CLARK is marketing consultant and director of special projects at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at tony.clark@tidewaternews.com.