Sunday, March 13, 2005

Elections, Governance and Development in Montogomery County

I just came back from a Steering Committee meeting to elect Steve Silverman as County Executive of Montogomery County, which is a suburb of Washington DC. The election will be held in November 2006, but the campaign has already started.
I am sharing this with you because this has important lessons relating to elections, governance and economic development of SINDH AND pAKISTAN. I intend to use this first hand experience from now through elections to tell you about american democracy and to draw lessons for Sindh and Pakistan.
Montogomery county is one of the richest counties in USA and has budget of several billion dollars. For example, it spends about 16,000 per year on education of each child per year as compared to less than $10 in many developing countries.
For the post of county executive, so far we have two democratic party candidates. Steve Silverman and Ike Legget. One belongs to jewish community and another to african american community. Both have served as Presidents of the County council (assembly) and are well known and well versed with issues of the community. I know Steve more closely and personally. He has been sympathetic to issues of interest to me. Accordingly, when he asked me to serve on his fifty member Steering Committee, I was happy to do it. Today was the first meeting of the committee with well focussed discussion on how to get Steve elected. The meeting was held at home of one of his supporters.
As we arrived, each of us was given a brochure about what steve has achieved todate. We also received a form asking how each of us can help. We were asked to fill it out. 16 WAYS TO HELP STEVE were suggested. It asked whether I will be willing to host a coffee party at my home, whether I will make a donation, write to newspapers, call and convince my friends etc. One of the most important questions was whether I will serve on one or more of Steve's ISSUE ADVISORY BOARDS. The advisory boards relate to
I suggested that we should also have advisory board relating to PUBLIC UTILITIES WHICH INCLUDE ELECTRICITY, WATER, SANITATION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS since prices of these services are becoming very high.
During his speach, Steve emphasized that ultimately election will be decided on basis of how the voters feel about approach of the candidates relating to issues important to them. He told us not to worry about money at this stage. He requested each of us to introduce him to our friends and community groups that we belong to. HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT ELECTION PROCESS, GOVERNANCE OF MONTOGOMERY COUNTY AND DEVELOPMENT WILL BE INTERCONNECTED.
This is early stage of the campaign. But I wanted you to know that this particular candidate is interested in issues. Through the advisory boards, he wants to develop the positions that he can and will support.
This does sound a little different from elections back home, doesn't it? I THINK THAT IF WE WANT DEVELOPMENT OF SINDH AND PAKISTAN, WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT ELECTIONS, GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMET REMAIN INTERCONNECTED. IF SOME CANDIDATE OR PARTY FAILS TO KEEP COMMITTMENTS, THEY WILL HAVE TO BE DEFEATED NEXT TIME AROUND. This will sound elementry and naive to many. However, unless we believe and act, things will remain same as they have been for more than fifty years.
Kind regards,
Ali Nawaz MemonSindh Development Institute7204 Antares DriveGaithersburg, Maryland, USA 20879


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home