Editor’s Note – Some PCC hopefuls already have important positions in local politics, or another commitment that would be difficult to combine with being PCC. A few may be wondering whether voters will wear them squeezing the two together under the Home Secretary’s you-can-do-other-stuff concession, but Council Leaders already have a clear steer from Nick Herbert that they have a conflict of interest. What should a busy candidate do? Wait and see whether you win the election? But if you do that, would you have time for a proper campaign? Wait till you get the nomination? So then you win it but look uncommitted, or lose it and treat the current job as a consolation prize? Not Ken Maddock. Until recently he was the leader of Somerset County Council, but he has stood down from this post to seek the Conservative nomination for Police and Crime Commissioner in Avon and Somerset. You can find more from him at www.kenmaddock.org.uk.
I really feel that this is the start of a new era and as such it represents an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and help shape it to really suit the local area. If it is done well, it can make a huge difference to everyday life for all of us, and that is why I think it is so important.
A good candidate needs to be local, high profile and very visible. There is a lot of talking, listening and learning to be done between now and November to get a real sense of the feelings of over 1.5 million people in the Avon & Somerset area (in my case). This will take hard work, good organisation and above all a lot of time. So it is important to start as early as possible. That is not consistent with ‘hanging on to what you’ve got in case you don’t succeed’. That would just give the impression of being a part-timer who lacks self-belief and lead to a half-hearted effort. I cannot see 40 Commando yomping across the Falklands without pulling out all the stops and believing.
Of course it is a wrench for me to give up my role as Leader of Somerset County Council, and I am sorry that not all the things I wanted to do are finished yet. But I am confident that I leave the organisation a lot better than I found it. The essential building blocks are in place for further improvements. And there are good people there who will move the business on still further.
It can be hard to walk away from a £40,000 a year ‘job’ for six months without pay with no guarantee of another income at the end of it. But personally I think that money is completely the wrong reason to do public service, as it is intrinsically insecure and the money can cloud your judgement. So in the end I come back to the point that you have to be serious and show that you are serious about it. Personal committment before party selection really demonstrates this. You may feel it is the measure of the man.