Mark Welch and Ann Becker Win as West Chester Trustees: The strategy of leadership and the hen-pecker “wish-they-were’s”

With all elections there are a lot of ups and downs. I would have liked to have seen Ed Gillespie win the governor race in Virginia. I would have liked to have seen Ernest Gause win a seat on my own district’s Lakota school board. But in the races, that strategically mattered, I am very happy with the results of the November 7th election in 2017. For many reasons that are complex in the tapestry of politics I viewed the race for the West Chester Trustees in Southern, Ohio to be the most important because of the players involved and the potential impact on things that come next. The people I most supported won, Ann Becker won George Lang’s old seat and Mark Welch held on to his for re-election. It was a bit of a surprise to me to see Lee Wong retain his seat with 32% of the vote. Mark won with 31%. It would have seemed logical that the progressive Joan Powell would have sucked votes away from Lee, but it appears that the target was on the frontrunner Mark. After all, it was only a few months ago when Lee Wong organized a union protest at a trustee meeting to put Mark on the spot in a very political way. Some of that anger was still out there in activism for Lee and against Mark which showed up in the vote tallies. But in the overall results, it had little effect but perhaps a few percentage points. Mark won easily and that says a lot about his strength and ability to endure controversy when the chips are truly down giving him great leeway to govern as he has.

http://www.whio.com/news/incumbents-welch-wong-win-election-west-chester-trustees/d6P1PFZ7ECd5RrfF8kZsYO/

http://www.journal-news.com/news/ann-becker-wins-race-replace-west-chester-trustee-george-lang/CK0AklA1gWDW3PhQi0RRZJ/

The combined talents of Mark Welch and Ann Becker is a very dynamic team and will bring great excitement to West Chester. They were very impressive down the stretch working together on a door to door campaign—even working Lakota high school football games as a team as opposed to individual candidates. That strategy paid off in the end as they beat a barrage of some fairly stout political heavy weights. Lynda O’Conner came in second to Ann’s seat and Joan Powell garnered a number of votes from her former levy supporters at Lakota to pose as a threat, so this was no easy race by any stretch of the imagination. But like most things the people who did the most work were the ones who won—except in Lee’s case. He simply rode in the wake of Mark driven largely by the controversy he created. That strategy will only work once now that it’s been exposed.

Leadership and politics are interesting things and the strategies for dealing with them are different depending on whether or not we are working with the public or private sector. Whenever you are the president of something, or the primary leader, the chicken littles will always be hen pecking at your heels trying to undermine you. No matter how good you are at your job or how nice you are to other people, the human disposition toward those with power is to knock them down a peg or two. Especially when a leader is obviously more skilled, there are always the cape riders who will try to leech off the good work of the skilled person, then at some opportune moment, they will make a move and try to take credit for everything good that was done. For Lee Wong, he made his move when he brought the union activists several months back to put Mark on a spot for running the trustee meeting. Mark couldn’t close the meeting procedurally by a scandalous move by Lee to keep it open. In the strategies of war, Lee had the high ground because he was not in the leadership position at the time—Mark was the president of the trustees. That allowed for Mark to be vulnerable regarding procedural parameters that Lee could then control with chaos—a popular tactic among liberals—especially when they are out of power. One way to destroy them is by turning those tables on them and giving them a dose of their own medicine. Let them be the president for a year and destroy them with mundane procedures—and let the public see how incompetent they really are.

Lee Wong has had the advantage of playing victim for over eight years, first with Cathy Stoker then as the third wheel behind Mark and George Lang. Anyone who might get angry at a decision Mark or George made could use Lee as their avatar. The way to defuse that trend is to take away the mystic of that avatar by letting reality choke it out. Power isn’t in titles, it’s in votes, and that should always be the focus. Let political rivals expose their docile minds to the world, and not hide behind the exceptional, and all things will work out best in the end. My assessment of why Lee Wong grabbed 32% of the vote was because he was riding the cape of Mark Welch and George Lang for a long time and people didn’t associate activity with him, only that he was part of a successful package—by default of being a trustee during very successful times for which Mark and George created.

Now it’s a new ball game. Ann Becker is not George Lang, she is a different kind of Republican. I was impressed with her ability to create optimism under pressure and to really be a cheerleader for West Chester during her campaign. If West Chester were going to take a step forward, Ann was the key to that improvement. Between her and Mark there are two very optimistic people holding the controlling votes as trustees and that is a great thing—there are no negatives involved. Lee is a harmless bystander and much easier to deal with than someone like Joan Powell. If we were to be stuck with either Lee or Joan, Lee is the lesser of the two progressive evils.

Thinking about Ann, I’ve known her for a long time now and been with her through some very tough times and I know her thoughts when nobody else has been around. She is very savvy, and very pure as a person. Dealing with her as a trustee is something anybody should consider a rare pleasure whether its politics, business, or community advancement—she is the best. She is no phony, that’s for sure. Mark has a good partner to work with under the best possible circumstances. Lee Wong may have earned a lot of votes, more than he deserved, but the cause is not anything good that he did, it’s purely his lack of responsibility that served him well in 2017. With a historical record where Mark Welch and George Lang did everything and Lee just went along for the ride, he had no controversy from a past decision to hinder his election—and if Mark had the benefit of the same, Welch might have gained an extra 10% in this election. But Mark endured a major controversy in regard to right-to-work and finished very strong, which is something he and everyone in West Chester should be very proud of.

Rich Hoffman

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