Kontos Column: Now that’s how you do it; take note

By Dan Kontos

On June 22, long-time administrator for the Village of Plover, Dan Mahoney, announced that he will be retiring next February. For almost 20 years, Dan has guided his municipality through both smooth and rough waters, and his fellow citizens have benefited greatly.

Under Dan’s leadership, the once sleepy little village now is home to over 13,000 people and has an impressive equalized value of almost $1.3 billion. As village administrator, he has counseled and guided many elected officials who were wise enough to listen.

While Dan didn’t always get his way, everyone agreed that his positions were sound, justified, and always with a long view of what was ahead. He constantly kept the welfare of the citizens and his employees in mind and was not one to grab the spotlight for himself. Other municipalities would do well to take notes.

Unlike elected officials, Dan was a professional public administrator, trained and experienced in the management of government. His steady and comprehensive approach to municipal governance kept him in his position longer than a great many of his peers. He didn’t get his position by winning a popularity contest, but by proving his value to the village time and time again.

Our republican form of government centers around electing people to represent us and make informed decisions. Wise office holders do well to take the counsel of those trained and experienced professionals who are intimately familiar with the inner working of public management, which can become very complex at times. However, all too often, elected officials seem to forget that they don’t know what they don’t know, and allow their status to cloud their judgement.

Don’t misunderstand me; we need good representation by people of good character who are accountable to the people, and elections seem to be a good way to go about this. But career politicians, tone deaf partisan stooges, and single-issue advocates have poisoned our system and must be purged at the polls on all levels.

If you are a student of politics, or even a casual but informed observer, you probably find that you are in distressing times. Magnified through the lens of national affairs, we frequently decry the actions of politicos who often seem to act out of self-interest, rather that the good of the whole.

Take heart: the more you focus in on local government, the more you are buoyed by what you see. Professionals, like Dan Mahoney, are helping to keep our communities not only afloat, but even thriving—despite what is happening in Madison and the District of Columbia.

This is where I am expected to insert the almost mandatory disclaimer that no government is perfect, since it is run by people, and people make mistakes. Yes, yes, I understand. After all, the Village of Plover just went through the great chicken debate. Good grief, if that’s the worst that the village has to suffer through, I think there is hope that we will all survive.

Administrators make many decisions in the course of their duties, but they are not the final authority. That falls on the shoulders of our elected officials. We, the voters, are ultimately responsible for the people who are selected for those positions. Take your responsibility at the ballot box seriously.

There are a lot of great local office holders who are dedicated to their communities, and we are grateful for their service. Many of them are little known, as they don’t seek the limelight. They quietly and proficiently go about their work. Others, well frankly, fall into the category of garbage in, garbage out. Know any of those? Choose wisely.

In true Dan Mahoney fashion, he has laid out a long-term succession plan, including training his replacement, and then even the next replacement after that. He has consulted with his bosses—the elected officials in Plover—and has made his transition as painless as he could. We would expect nothing less.

With all of the horrible news as of late, I thought it was important to highlight one of the truly good guys that has done so much for his community, and his neighbors. Dan’s retirement is well deserved, and he will truly be missed. His shoes may be big to fill, but the footprints that he will leave behind will last forever.

Well done, Mr. Mahoney. Well done indeed.

So, with that, let’s meet in the opinion section to talk about all of it, boldly, unafraid, and with a healthy earned respect for each other. Until then, God bless.

Dan Kontos is a paid columnist for the Metro Wire. He chooses his own topics and his opinions do not necessarily represent the staff of the Metro Wire. He lives with his family in Whiting. 

Interested in becoming a columnist for the Metro Wire? Email [email protected]

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