America, home of the free – and the brave – remains so principally because of the sacrifice of the country’s two percent.

Former Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee

A 2014 Pew Research Center report noted there were 90,107 government units in the U.S. — everything from county governments – more than 3,000 – to independent school district governments.  While some serve in appointed positions, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans serving in elected office, mostly at the local level.

How many of us have pondered the prospect of running for political office, but – after coming to our senses (or brought to our senses by a spouse) – have thought, “why in the world I want to do that?”

A Pew Research study revealed who seeks out these offices and found that about two percent of Americans say they have run for federal, local, or state elected office.

Why? Public office is a sacrifice, which is defined as something that is given up for the sake of others. Government leaders subject themselves to the rigors of free speech, including public criticism, ridicule and protests.

Good leaders also take risks.

Take the example of Tim Lee, who was elected to Cobb County’s Board of Commissioners in 2002 and became chairman of the panel in 2010. He died Sunday at age 62 after a battle with cancer.  He was chairman when the county was approached by the Atlanta Braves who had become frustrated with a lack of regular maintenance, abuse of copyrighted merchandise and security issues at Turner Field in Atlanta.

Lee saw a once-in-a-lifetime economic development opportunity for Cobb County, and while the deal with the Braves was negotiated privately, it was ultimately revealed in public meetings and approved by The County Commission.

Cobb County invested $400 million to build and maintain SunTrust Park.

By the way, Lee’s defeat in 2016 was viewed as a referendum against his support of the project, and how it was negotiated.

He lived to see, though, a study conducted by the Georgia Tech Center for Economic Development Research. It revealed that SunTrust Park and The Battery Atlanta, as well as adjacent mixed-use developments, are driving an average, total net positive fiscal impact of almost $19 million to Cobb County Government annually.  Property values in the Cumberland area have soared by approximately $4.5 billion since the ballpark was announced in 2013, and both commercial and residential construction has taken off, including 1,400 new rooms in six hotels in the area and the construction or planning of six new Class A offices in the CID since the ballpark’s announcement.

Quite an achievement.

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