Approaching the issues
Running as an independent gives me freedom and responsibility with respect to my approach to issues. I am free of party-endorsed positions, but as a result, I alone am responsible for making my positions clear.
I am comfortable with the description that I have heard many of you use for yourselves: fiscally conservative and socially liberal. This is a shorthand summary, and each of you may have a different interpretation of exactly what this means, but it is a useful starting place.
For me, the fiscal conservatism is really an urgent call for us to be realistic, which is something that neither party at the national level has been for a while. At all levels of government, there is a tendency to make commitments that are greater than the resources we are willing to bring to pay for them. We are able to postpone the day of reckoning through borrowing and deferring the committed cash payouts, but we are expecting that when these bills do come due, the leaders and taxpayers at that time will pay for them. Being a fiscal realist means thinking that we should address these imbalances sooner rather than later.
And on the socially liberal side of issues, my concerns are greatest for those who are truly the least advantaged in our communities. It's a fact that often those who have the most to fear in their daily lives are also the least represented in the political process. The independent in me wants to make sure we don't neglect their concerns simply because we are pre-occupied by the more politically nimble.
My own style and personal objectives
I examine the overall economic impact of proposed budget actions and legislation, and work hard to understand the underlying incentives and motivations. Money matters.
I think strategically about what might be acceptable solutions to various interested parties, and whether there are some creative combinations that can address many of the concerns, at least part way.
I try to be clear when I am more invested in a particular outcome, and why that is so, as opposed to when I serve primarily as a broker between different perspectives and positions. I don't necessarily have a horse in every race.
I need to listen to all the constituents in the district, regardless of party affiliation.
I need to pay particular attention to the views of the elected local officials in the district, as we are all part of a single team unified by the consent of the voters.
I need to present what I hear and learn in a straightforward manner.
I need to discuss my own proposed actions in advance, and be open to push-back.
I need to accept the outcome of a properly-run process and work with the result.