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The Emmaus Councilman's Wife: Lessons in Local Government

Being married to an Emmaus Borough Councilman illustrates the difference between a public servant and a politician.

I’m writing this column with a big sigh of relief. My husband, Brian Holtzhafer, was elected to his second term on .

It’s the week after the election, and I don’t know if anyone is happier than I am.

Until I met my Brian in 1998, I had no true understanding of local government. I knew when it was time to elect the President and that was about it.

I had no idea what a township supervisor or councilman did, nor did I comprehend the time and commitment required by these community servants. Marrying Brian changed all of that.

Brian ran for a seat on Emmaus Borough Council for the first time in 1999. He lost that race by 13 votes.

After starting our family and settling into our current home in 2007, Brian decided he was ready to give it another go. We were established – him with a teaching job, me at home with two bouncing boys.

Brian felt it was his responsibility to give back to the community in which he was raised. I supported him without thinking too much about the sacrifices it might mean for our family. Giving back was more important.

He won the election in 2007. And that was the beginning of my life as a councilman’s wife.

We joked about it in the beginning, calling him “Councilman Holtzhafer” and me “The Councilman’s Wife,” but little did I know how political things might become, how stressful this might be for our family, and the that might follow. This wasn’t why we were in it. We never imagined this side of things.

Brian considers himself a "public servant," not a "politician." To him, it’s not about party lines. It’s about working with others to keep our town safe, happy and healthy.

Endless hours are spent at meetings, community events, and working on issues people might never imagine. All of it is important. All of it matters.

What is hardest for me to deal with is that Brian is a real person with an honest agenda, as are all of our local government officials. He’s not some person who wants control or has hidden intentions.

He is a husband, a father and a son. He is not the President of the United States, nor does he want to be. It’s been difficult to hear the – on both sides.

For me, being a councilman’s wife isn’t about the politics. It’s about supporting the man I love in what he sees as his way of giving back. He could have chosen to volunteer at church or become a "Big Brother." Instead, he chose this as his form of community service.

In the end, my greatest wish is not only for others to see these honest intentions, but for our sons to follow their father's footsteps in continuing some degree of public service.

It's not about what you give back, it's that you give back.

John Pospischil November 16, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Congratulatins on your re-election Brian. The community turned out to elect people with positive views and agendas. It was our way of saying keep up the good work.
Mike Waddell November 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Jenae - thank you for a thoughtful piece about something we don't often think about...the families of those who serve their community in some way. They aren't often in the limelight or get the credit they deserve for the late meals, rearranged schedules, public scrutiny, unwanted notoriety, time away from family and friends, etc. so thank you for reminding us to thank them for their support.
Robert Sentner November 16, 2011 at 10:37 PM
So true Mike.
Linda November 17, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Thanks for all you do, Brian and Jen. Not only do you serve on Council, but we always see you and your family participating at all the Emmaus community events. Congratulations on your election!
Jenae Holtzhafer November 17, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Thanks for your support! We LOVE Emmaus AND our fellow townspeople!

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