A leader should be a servant to the people. However, when I say servant, I do not mean a slave because human agency and the capacity for choice is what distinguishes a leader from a tyrant or a slave. It is not what a person does under compulsion that we tend to hold them morally blameworthy for, but rather, for what they chose to do given that there are or were reasonable alternatives. By servant I mean a person who acknowledges the presence and the humanity of people, makes the time to understand their concerns and desires, and actively chooses to fulfill those ends. The ends of the actions of a good civic leader and good public service should be a more just and equitable society wherein people have the greatest amount of liberty to pursue their goals with limited infringement upon the goals of others. I am a member of the Climate Justice Steering Committee with the local, grassroots, community organization “GotGreen?,” and last year we developed a survey to discover the issues most pertinent to the citizens of south and west Seattle. We hosted several community forums to share our discoveries and to get feedback. The result of our community engagement is a campaign that will focus on food justice, housing security, and access to adequate health care. Had we paternalistically imposed a campaign upon our community instead of being servants to our community we may have missed one of their most important concerns, housing security.

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