I was reading today about public censures given to a couple of people who are members of my national professional organization and got to thinking about the importance of having good, ethical people entering careers in local government, or government at any level for that matter. I can bet that everyone has been in at least one (or one hundred) conversations during their lifetime about the way government is operated. We often hear things like: “government should run more like business” or other not-so-flattering things about the people who are in professional roles in government. I am very proud of the Team of professionals we employ here in Auburn Hills. All of them are highly educated and/or bring a lot of skills and abilities to the delivery of quality, effective and efficient services. Those are not just expected words to describe our workforce . . . they are factual.
I sit at my desk every day and I’m reminded of the thousands of students across the street at Oakland University and at other institutions of higher learning who might be contemplating a rewarding career. My hope is that more and more people begin to think about being part of the solution to issues that are handled by government rather than be part of the conversations that take place criticizing those who are in government careers. I have begun my twenty-sixth year in local government management, and I can tell you that I haven’t a single regret. It is a wonderful thing to know that I will be able to look back when I finally reach retirement and be able to say that I had a career that influenced good public policy and a good life for those in the community’s in which I managed. No, this is not an environment where you’re going to get rich. If you’re getting rich, well let’s just say, you’re doing something terribly wrong. However, you can make a very good living in local government management and in other roles within a local government setting, and the impact you will have if far greater than perhaps many other careers you could pursue. If impact is as important as big money, and if service to the community is as much a reward as a stock bonus, I would invite you to explore a career in local government.
Like most local communities, we need good people who are interested in public service and are energetic about serving others. Our workforce is diverse and talented. No, not everyone needs a degree to work here. We have people who use skills that build things, clean things, paint things, repair things, and so on. They keep everything operational for the citizens, businesses, and visitors to our community. And yes, we have people with college degrees at all levels from just a few higher education classes to doctoral level. It all works together to deliver that quality, effective and efficient service I mentioned earlier. We all respect each other for the things we individually contribute. Most of all, we know that we are part of our City’s greater mission: To be stewards for the community through a connected, transparent and efficient government.
Tom Tanghe, City Manager