When I read the headline of last Thursday’s issue of The Emporia Gazette, I was at first outraged to learn that three county officials decided to give themselves raises, as I am sure many others were. With time to reflect, however, my opinion has changed dramatically from outrage to understanding.
The jobs that actually received pay increases – sheriff (Jeffrey A. Cope), clerk (Tammy Vopat) and register of deeds (Vicky Lopez) – are positions that I feel are necessary to have such pay raises, especially the position of sheriff. No qualified person would accept the job of sheriff for a meager salary, regardless of the size of town, when held to the responsibilities that comes with the position.
We can lie to ourselves and claim that everyone who runs for a position does not do so because of the pay, but rather, to increase the wellbeing of their town. The truth is that no one would accept a position that does not adequately compensate. I want an official that accurately meets all the requirements for the position, not a person who will accept a title simply because no one else will stand up to the challenge.
And while it may look terrible to raise salaries, it is a drastic improvement over what it could be. When learning about past Texas politics, I was amazed to find that members of the state congress would constantly ask for pay raises, but were denied by the public for years. Because of this, they turned and accepted jobs with major companies to make more money, tainting their voting patterns by allowing bills that would give their “bosses” a major competitive advantage.
The aggression toward these officials for giving themselves raises is ridiculous, and the idea that they are acting against the good of the community is equally absurd. For everything stated above, they gave themselves raises to increase the want of able-bodied people vying for these positions in the future, hoping to bring qualified members of the community forward. With these pay raises and a longer period of reflection on all actions by elected officials, we can look forward to an Emporia that has what it needs to succeed and continue its path of growth.