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Who Are The County's Most Influential People?


Who are the most influential people in Pottawatomie County?

Who are the people who can make things happen here?

Those same questions were posed 30 years ago, 20 years ago, ten years ago and again this year by this newspaper. The answer, determined by a rolling poll conducted over several weeks, will be revealed this fall in interviews with the ten most influential people in Pottawatomie County.

Are the same people still the “movers and shakers” in our community? Maybe, although many on those first three lists have passed away or moved away.

But many are still around — although not necessarily in the positions of influence they once had.

Kris Steele topped the list in 2010, followed by Bill Ford, Randy Gilbert, John A. Barrett Jr., Joe Taron, Charlie Laster, Linda Peterson, Marilyn Bradford, Brad Henry and Marion McMillan. Will any of those people still be on the list ten years later? Have they moved up or down in influence in the eyes of their community?

You will learn for yourself over the next few months. Letters are going out soon to about 50 of those determined to be the most influential in previous years. They will be asked to name the five people they think are currently the most influential.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines influence as “1. A power indirectly or intangibly affecting a person or course of events. 2.a. Power to sway or affect based on prestige, wealth, etc. b. A person or thing exercising such power.” And influence and power are inexorably tied to leadership. Webster says that to lead is “to direct by influence.”

As the responses come in, the number of “votes” each person receives will be tallied. Everyone named who was not on the original list will also be sent a ballot. The rolling poll will continue until a consensus emerges.

Fifty-nine different people were nominated as among the most influential in the 2010 poll. Twenty-one of them are women, compared with 18 ten years previously and only six 30 years ago. Twenty-five people were named only once; 21 two, three or four times; and 13 were named five or more times.

Once the Top Ten have been identified, The Countywide & Sun will conduct interviews with them, specifically asking them for their views on leadership.

So, who are the Top Ten most influential people? Write down your guesses as to who are the most powerful people in Pottawatomie County, the people who get things done here. Keep in mind Nicolo Machiavelli’s classic treatise on leadership, The Prince, where he observes that “Without doubt princes become great when they overcome the difficulties and obstacles by which they are confronted … Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as great enterprises and setting a fine example.”

Join us over the next few months as we explore Pottawatomie County’s “princes” and “princesses” — of power.


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