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VIEWPOINT: Recognizing an elected official for an often thankless job

Being an elected official in today's political climate is not for the faint of heart. It is a tough business. I believe the hardest elected jobs are the ones closest to the people. The farther you are away, whether it is St. Paul or Washington, D.C., the more difficult it is for the folks back home to keep tabs on your day-to-day work. Not so when you are a city councilperson or a school board member. These are not full-time positions, yet they demand a great deal of attention and hold enormous responsibilities.

Why does one run for such a position? It is certainly not for the money. Locally elected officials normally pay out more in time and expenses than they make.

Notoriety? I don't think so. Most of the attention they receive is far from positive. Every time elected officials make decisions they most likely offend someone, somewhere.

So what attracts people to elected office? I believe it is a sense of idealism. People want to make a difference in their communities. In terms of school board members, making a difference in the lives of our students is what drives them to serve. When people leave a position on the school board, they would like to believe they have left our schools better off then when they first got elected. Over the years I have worked with hundreds of school board members and they all have been committed public servants.

Scott Papke recently logged his last meeting as a school board member of the Stillwater Area Public Schools. Scott served the past four years on our local school board. He always made his decisions on what was in the best interests of our students. He committed countless hours to make our school district better. He advocated at the local and state levels for the funding to give Stillwater area students the best education possible. Scott has been a champion of our students. Our young people may not know Scott, but they benefit every day from his selfless work on their behalf.

Scott Papke is an idealist, and he leaves our school board knowing that ISD 834 schools are better off because he has served. Thank you, Scott.

Tom Nelson is the superintendnt for District 834.