A couple of years ago, I ran into Alderman Roger Wilson in the audience at a Frederick County Council meeting. He noticed my Virginia Commonwealth University logo shirt and explained that he attended that Richmond, Virginia, school, too.
He was there in his role at the time as the director of government affairs and public policy for the county. The exchange was pleasant enough but mostly unremarkable.
Fast forward two years and now Alderman Wilson finds himself in political turmoil for what he terms “flirting” and an independent investigation calls “unwelcomed sexual advances.”
I do not know if the charges against Alderman Wilson warrant his expulsion from the city council. I do know, however, that we must demand his resignation from the council. Not because he necessarily did anything wrong, but because he should be ashamed of his lack of judgement and self-control when he should have known better.
Politicians must know, even in a small town, the spotlight is always on them. When they accept public office, their lives to a large extent become public, too. Shame used to a powerful motivator but now, unfortunately, it seems to be a quaint relic of the past. Now, politicians only leave if they have no other choice, kicking and screaming political hit job as they go.
See Anthony Weiner, Dennis Hastert, Tim Murphy, John Conyers and now, possibly, Florida republican Matt Gaetz. As a lifelong Democrat, I applaud the many Democrats and the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee who are calling for Mr. Wilson to resign. Mr. Wilson may indeed be innocent of any serious wrongdoing, but that doesn’t mean he is entitled to be a public figure.
Serving in office should be a temporary honor, not a long-term career goal. Just as with Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York, we must expect a higher standard of behavior from our leaders, not just enough to stay out of jail. We should demand better.