Best Advice for Elected Decision Makers

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Nov 10, 2019 - 12:00am

Scott Darnell has seen the Policy World from many vantage points. He has worked for the governor, the city, and he now oversees policy development and strategic planning for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. He knows how important effective and ethical advisors to elected decision makers are, and as the guest speaker for the October 30 Policy Seminar, he shared his expertise with the MPP students.

Scott explained that, “advisors are becoming more important than ever before to elected decision makers because of how fast the world is moving.” Our elected officials are expected to know everything about all of the issues and it is not possible for any human being to be that informed all of the time, and this is why they need advisors that know how to find the information they need.

Being an advisor to an elected decision maker is no easy task, but Scott gave the MPP students a few pro-tips on how to be an ethical and effective advisor.  First, be humble; remember that every decision is going to impact somebody - their life, their job, their child, their health, etc. thus, a decision should never be an easy call.  Also, admit when you do not know the answer, and then know how to go and educate yourself on that issue. Second, be informed; always study an issue from all sides and be sure to really understand the context of the problem. Third, be concise; time is an elected decision maker’s most precious resource, you need to able to articulate your standpoint clearly and succinctly. Finally, be helpful; know the issue from all sides but also know your own opinion on it. When asked for your standpoint, be honest and share your informed view. Do not just say what you think the decision maker wants to hear, it is very important as an advisor to be able to take a position after learning about all the options, and then give the best advice you can.