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Opinions

A Point of View: Competence and elected officials

What role does the candidate’s competence and likeability play in the election dynamic? Time will tell.  But, in my view, they are key. Likeability is a treasure and unquestionable competence is essential. In an earlier column I addressed the “likeability” factor. In this piece, I will deal primarily with the concept of competence.

When one is in need of a surgeon to perform a surgical procedure, the competency of the surgeon is profoundly essential. And a similar degree of importance is present, when one is in need of a dentist, a   pharmacist, or other health care providers. And, when one is a passenger in an aircraft, the competency of the pilot and crew is uppermost in one's mind. Further, when one is engaging the services of an electrician, a plumber, or a carpenter, their competency is likewise highly significant. And from a military standpoint, the competency of the military leadership is highly essential when facing a critically strategic    military operation. We then ask, what about the competency of those in public service including those representing us at the local, state and federal level?

Truly, competency is of primary concern in all walks of life. Would anyone ever intentionally select an incompetent person to be their surgeon, pilot, electrician, local mayor and a member of Congress or President of the United States? To be sure, competency is of prime significance and highly essential in almost every aspect life's situations.  

As I see it, the meaning of competence is that one is able to do a job thoroughly, meeting the specific requirements of the situation. A competent person is one who recognizes the varied aspects of the specific role including the hazards and uncertainties associated with a particular task. A competent person has the ability to mitigate those hazards and fulfill the requirements of the task. Choosing a competent individual should not be chosen lightly. For example, to put it simply, if work is to be performed on scaffolding, the competent person must be knowledgeable about the demands of the job, including the scaffolding hazards, and be able to meet the requirements of the task with skill and expert efficiency.

Competence possesses the appropriate skills and expert knowledge that allows one to fulfill the requirements of the task. It includes the ability to apply prior experience, in whatever domain, to new situations with good effect. One's competency usually increases over time as one acquires more information and ability through inquiry, observation and participation. When one feels competent, one can greet new situations with calmness, authority and confidence. And, as an added corollary, one’s competency may very well inspire others to seek competency in their own endeavors. And that is a point of view.

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