Thoughts From An Intern

Often the ones we are supposed to be teaching teach us. I had the pleasure this summer of having a great intern in my office, Dante Decario, a Derry Township native who just began his senior year at Seton Hill University.

Throughout the summer he experienced every aspect of being a county commissioner – from the mundane office work to the ceremonial events, public meetings and constituent outreach. He got to learn about the variety of services we provide and get to know some of the residents who depend on these services. He took part in some of the off-hours political events. I tried to give him the full picture of what it means to be a county commissioner, and while only part-time – and unpaid – Dante always took it seriously and tried to learn from every experience.

Half-jokingly, I asked him one day toward the end of his internship to list what he had learned. True to form, he took me up on it. I found his words spot-on, and he reminded me of the significance of my position and why I sought it.

So here it is, unedited from his original e-mail, and reprinted with his permission…

Though I could have typed a paper on my learning experiences from this summer, I picked out some main points I thought were very important.

Below is the list:

The importance of local government in our community and the reality of the duties it performs.

The hard work and long process that goes into completing projects and plans that the county is involved with.

Protection for the people in our county, by keeping an eye on what goes on in the county and how it can be improved.

The duties and importance of the various departments inside county government.

The politics that goes on behind the scenes, both good and bad.

Eye-opening experiences that allow me to appreciate even more than before how necessary and valuable government can be in our local community.

The procedural functions that go along with governing.

Insight on life lessons from many different aspects.

How incredible our Courthouse is historically!

How to communicate and reach out to help the leaders of municipalities inside the county.

How to deal with controversy/issues, including county government and other smaller local governments, by getting the story from both sides.

How to be a high quality elected official by reaching out to the public as much as possible.

How to get involved with committees to stay in touch with what’s going on.

How to be transparent – for example bringing government and businesses together to discuss concerns and issues.

Thanks, Dante, for your help this summer and for reminding us here of the importance of our elected government.