KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Dec 19th, 2011
Contact: Dr. John Thompson
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

The Wide World of Sports

I can’t help but remember the ABC program that I considered the best of television as I was growing up in the fifties and sixties. Saturdays brought a variety of sporting competitions, some of which I had never heard of growing up in western Kentucky. It was black and white and it was pure amateur sport, no matter the venue. It may not have been total purity in following the rules of the game, but it was not tainted by steroids, doping or genetic manipulation. I think we could identify with the athletes and we were encouraged to emulate the integrity of that kind of sportsmanship. Memory is a wonderful thing when filtered by time and only the best remains.

Our profession just completed a competition that had the quality of that wonderful program, but without the commentary of Jim McKay. For the last year two very highly qualified and politically astute gentlemen have contested a very tight race for President of the American Dental Association. Kentucky and the Sixth ADA District had a stake in this program in that Dr. Andy Elliott was carrying our flag and wearing our colors. Now remember, Wide World of Sports also covered rattle snake hunts and curling, so I don’t feel this is a complete stretch.

In an age when associations are plagued by apathy and executive officers are often elevated by default, it is a sign of our strength as a profession that there is a vital and vigorous debate in deciding our leadership. Most of our membership may be oblivious to the process that elevates a colleague to the presidency of the American Dental Association. As someone who has been involved and actually attempted to manage a campaign for a great competitor who sought this office in the mid nineties, I feel it is worthwhile to contemplate the value of this quest.

Politics, like professional sports, has become jaded. It may be just this writer’s personal observation, but I do not find integrity to be an operative word in our political landscape. Likewise, I see professional golf as one of the last survivors in a world where the purity of the sport is the sport and the rules are the rules that the competitors play by.

Andy Elliott has been seeking the office of President of the American Dental Association for many years. His preparation had been complete and his prior service qualified him as a young candidate for the office.  It was easy for many of us to see the leadership and vision that Andy provided our state and district delegations. When Andy declared his commitment and intention to enter the contest, it was with a great deal of support from ADA Trustee, Ken Rich and all who know him that the announcement was made last year. It was not out of just selfish motivation and regional pride, but a conviction that he should be shared with the collective association. When these decisions are made, the candidate has to be a fighter and willing to spend an entire year locked in a duel that will end with a single vote in October of the following year.

Let’s face it; you have to be special to think that you can ask your friends to sponsor you to the tune of $150,000. You have to be special to get a proven winner like Dr. Beverly Largent to take on the task of managing your campaign. And you have to be special to ask people to take time out of their practice to travel at their own expense to speak or make contacts on your behalf. You have to be special to ask and have associations contribute scarce resources to aid you in this contest. You have to be a confident, committed competitor and a winner to make this all happen, and that is Dr. Andy Elliott.

Through this past year we have watched an ebb and flow of the contest. There has been point and counterpoint. There have been jabs made and taken and certainly more than a few agreements to disagree. Both candidates became better competitors as the year went on and the better the competition the more it likened to a 1920’s golf match play with two gentlemen in their knickers doing their best to score while maintaining the composure of true gentlemen. The rules of play in an American Dental Association election may be anachronistic, but when followed it is a refreshing event compared to what society has become.

A well contested election is an incredible preparation for the persons who become the most visible voice for the profession of dentistry. To witness the quality of the competition that takes place is to understand the quality of the men and women who aspire to this office. As a profession we have been blessed by the leadership that rises to represent and guide us through the maze of outside influence that seeks to recast our roles and the excellence that we provide as oral health care for the public we serve.

The Andy Elliott Campaign for ADA President-Elect was a class operation from start to finish. The camaraderie and support offered by the entire Sixth ADA District of Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Kentucky was incredible. The unity exhibited will carry forward for years to come. The real winner is our American Dental Association. In Kentucky we say this election came down to a photo finish at the wire. An election that is separated by sixteen votes out of four hundred sixty five votes cast is not a draw… there is a winner. Dr. Robert A. Faiella and the ADA First District are to be congratulated for a race well run. There is probably no one that understands better what Dr. Faiella has accomplished, and there is no one who will wish him greater success in the job he will undertake than Andy Elliott.

It was the quality of the trial and the brutal closeness of the race that brought to mind the mantra of that time gone by, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!”

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