Barry Jantz

Barry has been involved in politics for many years, and served 16 years on the La Mesa City Council.

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Sunday San Diego....Families and Elective Office: A Personal Note


by Barry Jantz - San Diego County (bio) (email)(print)

7-2-2006 8:32 am

This entry may be a tad too personal for some tastes.  Yet, as I have been on vacation this past week, I've had some time to think about my decision earlier in the week that I would not run for re-election this year to the La Mesa City Council, where I have served since late 1990.  (The story ran in the SDUT on Thursday, even referencing the FlashReport, of all things.)

The response has been a blessing, quite frankly.  Most emails have been very supportive, and only a few have questioned why I wouldn't inform them in advance of the decision (it was clearly only my wife's and mine to make).  Still others have tried to read between the lines of my statement that I want to spend more time with my family, especially now that my daughter is entering kindergarten.

Have we become so jaded about politicians that we automatically assume whatever is said is simply spin?  I guess so.  But, what I said is what I meant.

Some have conjectured that I'm planning a run for school board this November.  Uh-huh, right.  I'm gonna give up an office where being a conservative usually only means folks yelling about your view on property rights, and where the local police and firefighters associations sometimes endorse Republicans (in East County, anyway)...and I'm gonna trade that for an office where nearly half of the community seems to want your head, and where the unions burn you in effigy if you even utter "GOP."  God bless my counterparts that serve on school boards, but Ron Nehring, Mike Spence, and the many others I know...I sure am glad it's you!

Bottom line, folks.  I can say, unequivocally, that none of my political roles or even the accomplishments and enjoyment derived from my involvement in any of them comes anything close to the time I've been given as a spouse and a parent.

Yes, I also know there's not a rational member of a legislature or local office anywhere in the land that would say - or believes - differently.

However, I've also seen the realization of time spent away from kids coming - for some - later than they would have liked.  I watched one of my best friends go nearly "lame duck" his last year and a half in the legislature when he awoke to the needs of his children.  It's a good thing he had a district staff in those final months, but you know what?  He became a much better father than perhaps he was a legislator, and today he's a better person for it.  

Another retired assemblymember looked me in the eye and told me it was only after terming out that he realized how much his teen son had needed him at home.  A former congressman wept on the witness stand a few years ago in defense of his criminally charged son, regretting that his political career had not provided enough time at home.  Another state legislator told me of his toddler saying to him on a Sunday as he left for the airport, "Daddy, you can be a legislator here with me, you don't have to go to Sacramento."  Ouch.

Over the years, I've had dozens of people, upon hearing my lukewarm response to the "When-you-gonna-run-for-higher-office" question, tell me in very certain terms about the assemblyman or senator they know who has children, as if to say, "He or she does it."  My response:  "And that's all you know about their family situation, isn't it?"

Let me make myself clear.  I don't begrudge for one second those many committed elected officials who do the work of the public every day while also making their family lives work.  I admire them.  For some, the traditional view of one spouse going off for extended absences while the other keeps the home fires burning works for them as elected officials.

For others, perhaps the time spent away from family is more than compensated by their work to make the nation, the state, their local community, or their schools a better place...including for their family.  In a very limited sense (and I mean very limited), maybe any time spent away is not unlike that of a member of our military, defending our nation while sacrificing so much at home (comparing the risk factor to a politician would be quite laughable, however).

But, let's face it.  You and I both know that for many who seek office - and win - it is not always about the noble cause of family, country, or even God.  It's about recognition, power, and sometimes too-difficult-to-define deep-seated needs.  And, even the most statesman-like of elected officials can easily get caught up in the trappings.

I admit, this is something with which I've struggled over the years...the very real need to be involved in the controversial issue, the political intrigue, the reading of the emails...versus the very real need of a five-year-old asking to play hide-and-seek.

That sucking sound you hear is sometimes about screwed-up priorities.

The worst cliché in the world may serve here.  We can be promoting family values every day of the week in D.C., in Sacramento, or on our local city council, but if we're not promoting them in our own homes, what then does it all mean?

In my case, I'm only retiring as local office-holder, with no need on a weekly basis to be off in Sacramento for three or four days and sometimes more.  No comparison whatsoever, I know.  Thus, I've viewed my very local involvement - as well as my ability to be home at night - as a benefit to my family.  At some point, however, it was appropriate to ask the question:  Is my time commitment benefiting the community - and thus my family - to a greater extent than other things I could be doing that have a more direct impact on their lives?  For me, that question has been answered.

Thanks for putting up with my personal missive today.  Have a great week!

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How could I not respond to that. A conservative with a heart who is not afraid to wear it on his sleeve. A conservative who walks the walk, and hides and seeks the hides and seek. Meet Barry Jantz.

Wow. As someone who has had it and lost it, I can attest that if your goal was to be the dad that little girl deserves, then you've made the right call. My father always said he was raising me to be a father...Your father must be very proud.

Bravo Barry!

One of the few decisions in this business which truly is faced by public people of both parties and all ideological persuasions.

Jantz proves he's not a fanatic

Something for the rest of us to ponder

You mean you're not going to stay in the ranks of those who defend the importance of the traditional family while growing more and more distant from their own?

Good call, Barry.

Nothing is more important than that. I have yet to see a way to easily serve "the poeple" and a family at the same time. There's plenty of time to go to war for the cause when your kids don't need you as badly.

I have a framed quote that says, "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world will be a better place because i was important in the life of a child."


This posting has received more positive responses than most..allow me to add mine.

Being a good dad and husband should always take priority over politics. You made a great and wise decision. More politicians need to sit back and look at how politics affects their family life. What is better for the soul-being known as a great politician or a great father? Family and friends are forever. I tip my hat to you.


The best that any elected official can hope for after a few decades is to get mentioned in a fistful of long-archived newspaper articles; get his name attached to legislation, or a few plaques, or a public building; perhaps a Wikipedia entry, or an obscure history book or two.

Your daughter will treasure the time you spend with her, as long as she lives.

Those who can't understand that choice, are probably not worth instructing.

Barry, you are so right!

So with that being said I'm giving up my campaign for San Diego Unified School Board.


On a serious note, your priorities are centered on the most important things a man can have, his family.

I just hope this doesn't start all us Republican office holders and wannabees from re-examining our particular family situations and joining you.

That would leave the field to the dark side, and we know where we'd be if that happens.

Your wife and daughter are blessed to have you. May God continue to shower your family with His blessings.

Reading your comments was a real reminder as to the weighty decision I made 16 years ago not to run for re-election to a seat you took! Many of the same reasons..all for the RIGHT reasons. Some of my feelings I have shared with you privately.The rule is you are to find your replacement first! You go Barry!!!

There is a tradition in our country of men and women who serve in public office, often local ones, then after a time return to private life rather than going on to "higher" office. I would say that after 16 years in public service to the City of La Mesa, Barry has earned the right to step down and be the husband and father he rightfully wishes to be.

God bless you Barry for being a great example to us all!

Awhile ago I became convinced of the theory that many people enter politics for the same reasons many people go into show business; they do it for the attention. Contributors to this blog all know people in elective office who are there because they like seeing their name in the media. They like being the center of attention and the focus of public controversies. Barry is not one of those people. I like that Barry leaves undefeated and on his own terms. He never lost an election in a city well-known for frequently not returning incumbents to office. Despite being part of one the most competently run municipal governments in the state, and despite being a major influence on East San Diego County politics, Barry has always been down-to-earth and unpretensious. He has never craved the spotlight that comes with holding public office. Additionally, he's always been principled; straightforward and willing to listen to those that disagree with him. Furthermore, he has always been loyal to his friends. That his highest priority is his family is no surprise to me. No one is indispensable, but it will be nearly impossible to replace Barry on the Council. The City of LaMesa's attractiveness as a place to live is very much attributable to his service on the Council. Also, his astuteness and wisdom are main reasons why LaMesa avoided the financial calamities that have, in recent years, plagued other cities in the county. Barry is still a young man, 15 years from now when his daughter will probably be off to college, Barry can return to public office. I know, if I'm still around, I will support him.

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