EDITORIAL

Elected officials should be held to a higher standard

Posted

Recently, three Cedar Park City Council members took heat for some of their actions and public comments. 

The three attended a protest at the Leander Public Library – outside the city they serve – and sided with various groups from around the state and country protesting against an LGBTQ Pride event which was originally to have featured a drag queen reading to children. 

While no drag queens read to children (that was done by local mothers) that didn’t stop the protests, and the three city council members… armed with misinformation… showed up to protest drag queens that weren’t even going to be reading to children. 

One of those council members – Rodney Robinson – later apologized, saying he didn’t do the research and showed up without benefit of full information. 

Fair enough. 

The other two council members – Tim Kelly and Dorian Chavez – have said they won’t apologize for expressing their opinions as private citizens. 

“I don’t feel the need to apologize for my actions as a citizen, which had nothing to do with this city,” Kelly said. “We did not give up our rights and we’re not held to a higher standard. We’re held to the same standard as everyone else.”

We disagree. They’re not simply private citizens at this point. They are elected officials, elected to represent all of their constituents – whoever and whatever the beliefs of those citizens might be. Showing up to protest alongside those protestors hurling insults towards members of the LGBTQ community – many of whom were Cedar Park residents – sends a clear message that these elected officials have taken a position that excludes those individuals. 

The concept of holding elected officials to a higher standard is ingrained in the history of our country’s government. Thomas Jefferson spoke of public service being a public trust, and that phrase is part of the Code of Federal Regulations. It also shows up in various other documents relating to civil service. 

Elected leaders are, and should be, held to a higher standard. They should bear in mind that they represent all of their constituents. And they should not engage in behavior that disparages anyone – in public or on social media – even those constituents with whom they disagree. 

We encourage Tim Kelly and Dorian Chavez to reconsider their refusal to apologize. The public expects a high standard of conduct from its elected officials, and appearing to discriminate against any group of residents has the potential to hurt the city's public standing and potential for economic development opportunities. 

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