Saturday, March 07, 2009
Remembering John Stockdale
The hardest working politician in Barton County died Friday morning.
Election results over the last three decades feature a long list of those who thought they could beat John Stockdale for Eastern District Associate County Commissioner. And who could blame them for getting their hopes up? After all, Barton County, once a Democratic stronghold, is now fertile territory for the GOP.
The former Democratic officeholders, people like Doug Haile and Doug Sprouls, eventually lost to Republican challengers. After serving as Barton County Clerk for a quarter of a century, Bonda Rawlings decided not to seek re-election...and that left John Stockdale.
There was no secret to John Stockdale's longevity in Barton County politics. He campaigned harder than anyone has ever campaigned in Barton County, not just to get elected into office the first time, but every time. Those who lived in the Eastern District of Barton County knew that they would receive a visit from John, maybe more than one, every time an election rolled around.
And for a long time, before Missouri law changed to allow associate county commissioners to be elected every four years, John Stockdale was knocking on doors every other year. Many of his opponents took the tried and true approach of submitting their names, attending party functions and shaking hands at community events. John Stockdale not only made personal visits, but he made sure to know what the concerns of his constituents were, and did his best to address those concerns.
John took his job seriously. Though the County Commission only met on Mondays, it was not unusual to see John in the office other days of the week, making phone calls or meeting with someone about a road or bridge issue.
And no one, absolutely no one, could ever enter the courthouse without a big hello and friendly greeting. If he spotted someone he knew across a room, he would cheerfully call out that person's name, and made that person, whether it was someone he had not seen in years, or someone he just talked to he day before, feel like he was the most important person in the world.
And that warm greeting, was always accompanied moments later by laughter. No one enjoyed his job more than John Stockdale.
In her moving tribute to John in today's Lamar Democrat, Editor Rayma Bekebrock Davis wrote, "Although he was an elected official, no one thought of him as a politician; he was a good man doing a good job."
If no one thought of him as a politician, that is a shame, because John represented the best of what politics is supposed to be. He was an elected official whose first thought was serving the people. Make no mistake about it...John Stockdale was a politician, and we could use more just like him.
The Barton County Courthouse won't be the same without him.