For CU Volunteer & Township Supervisor, Lots of Calls

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CAMBRIDGE, Minn. — The upside of being in politics is meeting a lot of people, learning their needs, and making changes that improve lives. The downside: listening to a lot of complaints.

Wayne Anderson, secretary and treasurer for the Stanford Township board of supervisors, said it took some time when he started on the board 25 years ago to become accustomed to the phone calls. "The public is open to reach you at almost any time. You receive a lot of phone calls that are not necessarily negative calls, but are complaints."

Since the township's primary business is the road authority, complaints are generally about the streets, shared Anderson. "Maybe a road was not plowed quickly enough or is slippery. When you get down to it, lots of times the calls are more like advisories."

Anderson acknowledged that he welcomes and encourages calls, on any matter, that keep the board of supervisors in touch with the people. "You quickly learn that most of the calls help you keep your finger on the pulse of the town, which helps you make the right kinds of changes in a timely manner," said Anderson.

Over the years he and the board have helped improve the local road system to accommodate the growing number of residents in the town that now totals 2,100 people. Anderson shared that being able to improve the lives of townspeople is one of the biggest rewards of being on the Stanford board of supervisors, which requires two meetings a month that take, on average, a total of four hours-excluding the phone calls.

"Those maybe take a couple hours of your time every month. People have my direct number. But most know not to call after 7 p.m."

Worth The Time

Anderson, also a director at $165-million Minnco CU in Cambridge, Minn., is paid $70 per meeting for his role in the township. Looking back on his career in politics, Anderson said it has been worth his time, from the very beginning of his political career when he had less time on his hands, working at the age of 35 as a sales engineer for a St. Paul, Minn. firm.

During his time in office, Anderson has witnessed not only the growth of credit unions in size, but in their perception among local residents. "Credit unions are recognized for doing a very good job of serving the community."

What has also changed are people's views of politicians, who are now perceived more negatively, noted Anderson, who said holding an elected office provides a different perspective.

"It gives you a different view of the demands on politicians who hold state and national offices. You realize they have very hard jobs. There are a lot of constraints facing them that people do not understand. Politicians have a lot of people pulling at them, each asking them to do what they want. Everyone wants something and they want it for nothing and you just can't do it. There are a lot of budget constraints every step of the way, from federal, to state, to townships."

A One-On-One Approach

Anderson has learned that be best way to deal with requests on his position are to talk with people one-on-one. "You talk it out and show them why or how something can or can't be done."

Being elected to serve a township, Anderson said he has not encountered the lack of civility that surrounds politics at higher levels. "In a township it is pretty much non-partisan. But everyone can see the lack of civility in politics at the state and federal levels. Civility has pretty much left us, and that's too bad, because all you are talking about are different philosophical and economic viewpoints. Why would you almost hate someone because of that? It is ridiculous."

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