I have no idea where this week’s column will take us, so just buckle up and enjoy the ride. , There are so many things I want to discuss, from the Carolina Panthers cheerleaders to the Terrell Owens flap to the Minnesota Vikings “Love Boat” cruise to Tedy Bruschi’s amazing return to the New England Patriots.

But the first order of business is to congratulate all those who were successful in their recent elections. In fact, kudos to anyone who put their names on the ballot. It takes courage to put yourself out there. People have suggested that I should run for public office, but I have skeletons in my closet that aren’t even dead yet.

So to newly elected Methuen Mayor William Manzi III, congratulations. I hope to meet you soon. Maybe we can sit for coffee. (I take mine with cream and sugar.)

The Lowell City Council returned eight incumbents to their seats and added local attorney George Ramirez to their number. Two words for the new council: Play nice.

And in Dracut, voters elected Kenneth Cunha to their Board of Selectmen. Ken was a selectman, then he wasn’t. Now he is again. Kind of like Theo Epstein. He was the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. Then he wasn’t. And now there’s talk that he may be again. Baseball guru Peter Gammons thinks it can still happen.

Regardless, Theo’s a 31-year-old guy who thumbed his nose at $1.5 million a year for three years because he can’t get along with his boss, team President Larry Lucchino. Hey, for $1.5 million a year I’d walk behind the horses at Nevins Farm with a shovel and a bucket, OK?

Theo says it’s not about the money. And you know what? I believe him. It’s not about the money. It’s about the power. Like in the movie Scarface when Tony Montana says, “First you getta the money. Then you getta the power.”

That’s why I can’t stand it when politicians say they’re running for office because they want to “give back.”

Baloney. You don’t want to give back. You want to take. You want to take the power. You want the prestige. You want your name in the headlines. Granted, you may have great ideas and great intentions, but it’s not about “giving back,” so just stop saying that.

Pelham holds their elections in March. Victor Danevich is up for re-election. He’s the only public official I know whose number is unlisted. Maybe a challenger can make that an issue during the campaign. And speaking of campaigns, Dracut Selectman Joe DiRocco is up for re-election in May of 2006. He is having a campaign kickoff party on Dec. 4. That has to be some kind of record.

Most voters stayed away from the polls in droves. Only 8.5 percent of Dracut’s 19,000 registered voters bothered coming out to the polls. The numbers weren’t that great anywhere else. My dad used to say that you get the government you deserve.

How is it that we can’t make our way to the polls on a warm, sunny day in November, but traffic is all backed up in Stoughton because a new furniture store had its grand opening?

My favorite election story came out of Michigan, where 18-year-old Michael Sessions, a write-in candidate, ousted a 51-year-old incumbent to become the mayor of Hillsdale.

“I’ll have to earn the respect of the City Council,” Sessions said. “It’s not about bossing them around; it will be about cooperating with them.”

Not once did Sessions say he was running because he wanted to give back. Sessions wants the power. What 18-year-old doesn’t?

Well, here we are at the end of the column. The ride wasn’t too bumpy and I hope you were comfortable. I’ll pick you up same time next week. Maybe we can talk about the Carolina Panthers, the Minnesota Vikings, Terrell Owens and Tedy Bruschi’s amazing return to the New England Patriots.

Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is