It takes guts
May 17, 2013
Q. What is the best way to say “thanks but no thanks” to an invitation – or inclination – to throw your hat in the ring for an elected seat or appointed position?
A. As we were writing this month’s column Detroit’s Mayor Dave Bing announced his decision not to seek a second term. We can only imagine how tough it was to make this decision; but he did it. He essentially said “no thanks” to what was bound to be a tough, divisive campaign. Granted Detroit is at a crossroads and Mayor Bing and Governor Snyder are at odds, at least publicly, over the installation of an emergency manager. Let’s push that, and much more, aside for the moment.
Often, it is harder to say “no” than “yes” when it comes to an opportunity to serve the public good. If reading polls, talking to voters and listening to trusted advisors paints a less than favorable picture, take the high road and seek different ways to serve. Mayor Bing has opted to clear the path for a new leader for Detroit, a city that is fast-becoming known as America’s Comeback City, a national media moniker for which Mayor Bing deserves a share of pride and credit.
From a communications perspective, our advice to the mayor – and anyone else declining an opportunity – is, take the high road. When you announce your decision, forgo placing blame, advice we hope Mayor Bing will heed. Be the “bigger guy”. Focus instead on accomplishments during your tenure. People will remember you for the good things you have done and, perhaps support you in your next endeavor. (Mayor Bing has formed a committee to explore a run for Wayne County Executive.)
From where we write, Mayor Bing is known as an honest mayor during one of the toughest times in Detroit’s history. This is an enviable and well-earned legacy. Mayor Bing, do not ruin it with a bad exit.