Unnecessary crisis: She should have known better

It’s deflating when a respected public servant is revealed to have done something completely unworthy of respect. It is also surprising, despite the frequency with which it happens. 

But, we are all human, and none of us can claim perfection. We all make mistakes and take action, or inaction, we come to regret. Those who are elected to public office, however, should understand that they have a responsibility to their constituents, to the taxpayers who support them, to hold themselves to a high standard of conduct. 

For U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5), it must have been daunting to be plunged from her first campaign in 2012 to a new life in Washington, D.C. Not only did she have to learn to do the job of governing at the national level, but she also had to set up an office of support staff and lead there, as well as in the House, for her district. She seemed to have grown in her position over the next years, working for bipartisan cooperation on important and meaningful legislation that she was able to see passed. Hence the respect she had earned.

But her handling of complaints about her chief of staff’s conduct in 2016 was clumsy and unprofessional. And her approach to dealing with the fallout of its becoming public has been an embarrassment to her district. While she has announced she will not seek reelection in November, this apparent admission of falling short in her service to her constituents is not sufficient. She should consider resigning, allowing someone else to get their feet wet before the November election. It would be better for the 5th District.

Esty attended Harvard and Yale, receiving her jurisprudence degree from the latter. She served as a law clerk for a federal judge, and in the state Legislature, yet it appears her management experience was wholly lacking. Everyone can blame bad advice when mistakes are made and discovered, but really, she can only blame herself for her actions and should take responsibility for them. She is clearly highly intelligent and has many good attributes, but this has been an area where she has fallen short. Even with her enviable education and experience, plain common sense would have helped tremendously in better handling of a bad situation.

Esty should take a step back from public life for now, at least, and decide the best way to regroup and move forward with her professional life.