It's a somewhat strange aspect of democracy that we have no clear qualifications for elected officials. Certainly we'll argue about the relevant (and relative) experience of candidates, but for positions with such great responsibility -- making public policy, spending tax dollars -- the standards are startlingly subjective.
Consequently, we'll occasionally see someone throw out the idea of an "ordinary joe" holding an important position (certainly the idea got talked about during the 2008 Presidential campaign). But what happens when those "ordinary joes" -- not just the pols who claim to be regular-folk, but the ones who have little government experience -- actually win office?
This Governing article, about Indianapolis' "ordinary joe" mayor, tries to explore that question. Greg Ballard
was elected mayor in 2007 in what has been called the greatest upset in Indiana political history. A former Marine officer who had taken up management consulting, he became the Republican candidate by default when a series of more experienced and noteworthy candidates refused to run.
He went on to defeat the Democratic incumbent due to what the article calls "late-breaking anti-tax fervor."
So how's he doing? The bottom line seems to be that Ballard's tenure has had ups and downs, and that the verdict is still out. Still, it's an interesting situation and interesting read.