Today I have another treat for you! My friend from church, Barbara Agnew, recently retired as the elections administrator in our county. She gave this speech at her retirement party at work. I thought it was great, So I asked her if I could share it with you on my blog, and she agreed. Barbara is one of the sweetest and gentlest souls in the whole wide world.

Moderation – What I Have Done and Who I Am
A Kind Soul
A Kind Soul

While I served as the Burnet County elections administrator I was required by law to be fair and politically unbiased – a “moderate”. I couldn’t contribute to a political party or campaign. I had a policy of “no political discussions” in our office. I required election workers and voters in the polling place to have the same policy – no political discussions. This was sometimes hard because we have interests and opinions on government, economics, social issues and the law.

We conducted elections with these goals during my tenure: fairness, accuracy, security and accessibility.

What I have become in these 8 years is a “moderate” – a person who listens to and values different sides of political issues. I value Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents and those who don’t want to be classified.

People of all persuasions are generous and kind and expect government officials to be careful with the resources under their purview – things like taxes, property, and policies. We want transparency in government. We want to be treated justly and we want others to be held accountable for their actions and receive the same justice.
I vote in Republican primary elections though many election administrators won’t vote in primaries because they don’t want others to know their party affiliation. For me, “the cat was already out of the bag” because I was a Republican precinct worker before coming to work in the elections office. My Republicanism stems mostly from an economic viewpoint that open markets benefit society and government involvement in business affairs can stifle economic growth.

Do I resent government? Not at all; government is necessary and desirable to provide safety, services and structure for society. Government shouldn’t be wasteful. Government shouldn’t be required to provide for all needs of citizens.  As Americans we have many privileges – a wonderful place to live with many resources, the right to vote, the right to worship how and if we choose, the right to bear arms, and many others. We have great public and private education options. I appreciate all of these.

I respect the sanctity of life and appreciate the choice that four birth mothers made which allows me to have two adopted nieces and two adopted nephews. From another perspective, I once accompanied a college friend to have an abortion and don’t know what choice I would have made if I faced the same decision.

I remember standing at the lunch table in public elementary school, singing “Oh the Lord is good to me and so I thank the Lord…” before sitting down to eat. I wish my grandchildren would be able to do the same. I am not so moderate in this area.

I have grown to know and care deeply for gay people. In the county election’s world we treat the transgender voter with the same respect as other voters. My job is to love and serve, not judge.

I understand we need integrity in our election process but I have seen that a strict photo ID law makes it difficult for some elderly voters and college students to vote at the polls.

I wish all people (of different races, political persuasions, ages, genders) were valued as God’s creations. I appreciate that my mother taught me not to show favoritism when working with children – my first job. Mom says no one of us is better than anyone else. I agree. I don’t know what it’s like to not be Caucasian, but I hope to get to the Texas border to help immigrants soon. Maybe I will gain some empathy.

Moderation may seem, at the least, unpopular. In the public policy arena it can be downright “wrong” not to have strong left or right opinions. But moderation is not just what I have done; it is what I am. Thank you for a well-rounded education Burnet County.

I welcome your feedback and comments.

Barbara Agnew – wife of Darrell Agnew for 32 years; mom to Trent (29), Brad (27), Todd (27), Kelsey (24); mother-in-law to Cori and to-be Elizabeth; and Mimi to Graham (2) and Bennett (5 months). Daughter of Glenn and Evelyn McVey. Sister to Laura and Chuck. Graduate of Georgetown, TX High School and University of Texas (Bachelor of Arts in Economics; class of 1982). Member of Fellowship Baptist Church in Marble Falls. Practice yoga and love to read, travel, garden and play.

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