Politics and the Benefits of “Experience”





medications times; font-size: 16px;”>By Daniel Gelman

Rob McCoy running for Assembly

Rob McCoy running for Assembly

no rx times; font-size: 16px;”>Lately I’ve heard the popularization of the “I’m not a career politician” campaign slogan from local candidates and others around the country. I get the populist appeal of that marketing strategy, viagra 60mg and I think the concept has merit, but it’s not that simple.

We’ve all heard that joke about one person asking another how to get to Carnegie Hall. The answer is “practice.” Substitute the state legislature or U.S. Congress for that famous performance venue in New York City, and you have an analogy worth pondering.

Say what you want about Ventura County Congresswoman Julia Brownley. But she spent 12 years plodding through and presiding over endless school board meetings in Santa Monica with decidedly difficult and unsexy content. It can be a thankless job. She also spent six years in the California State Assembly.

Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman and State Assembly candidate Jacqui Irwin has done the same for nine years at council meetings. No one can say they didn’t pay their public policy dues in relative obscurity.

Raphael Dagneses was defeated in his congressional race Tuesday by a large margin. Pastor Rob McCoy’s hopes are still alive for State Assembly. But neither has logged as many hours in grassroots political bodies as those ladies. (Dagneses was a police officer and Marine and McCoy was a community organizer and

Rafael Dagnesses

Rafael Dagnesses

pastor.) They wear this fact on their sleeves as a badge of honor. Here’s where it gets complicated.

They are correct that experience does not make one right. You could have taken 100 math courses, but if you think that 2+2=5, you are still

Julia Brownley

Julia Brownley

wrong. But that’s not the only important thing related to experience. You may be correct, yet entirely ineffective at getting others to see your point or incapable of finding a middle ground when necessary. You may be a poor communicator or negotiator when the stakes are high. Dealing with bureaucracy is a learned skill.

Public Policy is a major at many colleges. It is a career. While I am not in favor of politicians spending an entire career in one branch of government or one position, I do see the merit of working one’s way up the ladder of leadership and community commitment. If you have never sat on a school board, a city council, a planning commission, an advisory council or review board, do you deserve, or are you qualified to serve at the state or national level?

“Arnold’s” qualification to run a state the size of a country was being a movie star and weight lifter, and having led both national and state Councils on Fitness and Sports. He did some lobbying in that role. He also developed and sponsored Proposition 49, which passed in 2002. It was related to after school programs. 

Ronald Reagan was president of the Screen Actors’ Guild prior to running for Governor. He also held a degree in Economics.

Depending on how you evaluate their performances, you can factor in their relative lack of experience before becoming Governor to make various arguments. Some loved Reagan even as a Governor, yet he had very little experience. Others say Arnold was terrible and blame some of that on his lack of experience.

Mario De La Piedra

Mario De La Piedra

Mario de la Piedra, the 26 year old state assembly candidate from Oxnard lost his election Tuesday. Is it presumptuous to run for state office at his age, or a virtue?

My conclusion is that the best candidates should have just the right amount of experience without being entrenched anywhere, and just the right amount of fire in their belly that can otherwise subside when you stay in one field too long. Running for state or national office without having sat through four-hour policy meetings in your home town when no one is watching seems a quest for instant gratification.

Yet staying in office long enough to see your kids go from the playground to marriage seems an abuse of the citizen-politician concept some of our forefathers envisioned.


Daniel Gelman has been a Reporter/Writer for several years, specializing in News, Business, Feature, and Op-Ed.

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Citizen Reporter

Pretty good assessment in some respects, Daniel. Yes, experience is valuable, if one doesn’t get co-opted by the system in the process- which most do in time. Term limits are a wonderful idea.

You didn’t highlight that Rob McCoy’s experience as a pastor has heavily involved him in church organizations and that he is also very active in other organizations as well. He also worked in the corporate world in sales, unlike the most famous community organizer. It is no accident that he is endorsed By Governor Rick Perry, US Senator Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and others. All of these have added to his considerable skills.

You didn’t note that Rafael Dagnesses was a highly decorated undercover officer who successfully penetrated very dangerous gangs- probably great experience for being in government. He also built a $175 million business from scratch and survived a depression with it- so far. These are not trivial accomplishments.

I agree that Ms. Brownley is quite skilled and competent. I also know that she was rated dead last of 435 House members in Conservatism- not a good fit for Ventura County.