In the private and public sectors, higher compensation can draw better talent; but a bigger paycheck cannot and does not guarantee morality, integrity or sound decision-making. Nor does higher pay raise the bar for ethical behavior.
Having served two terms on the DeKalb School Board, including stints as chairman, finance chair and vice chairman, I can state that I was never in those roles for pay. The time and hours spent on those civic engagements often cost me more in business than an entire year’s board member’s salary. We do not need elected leaders who seek a paycheck.
Though many view Congress as a part-time job, members of the Senate and House are in fact employed year-round, as are their staffs. I remain a supporter of the system we have here in Georgia, where legislators are compensated for part-time work, and their legislative calendars are limited to 40 days a year.
In DeKalb County government, as well as our legislative delegation, considerable support appears to be building for a full-time county manager/county commission structure of local government, already in place in the majority of our 159 counties. If we are going to make such a shift from part time to full time, I’d rather start with a full-time county manager, overseen by seven part-time commissioners, than the other way around.
Paul Womack is a former DeKalb County School Board member.