Pulling together: An uphill pull

Hope lots of you, my fellow citizens, watched this past Monday’s statement/question/answer session with our candidates for parish school board and Minden mayor. While we understand the importance of choosing the right persons to shape and enforce educational policy, our comments today concern those hoping for the  Hizz(Herz)onor role.

A pre-subject request: Please put away the stones. Our intent isn’t to defame, deflate or demean. It takes guts to seek public office. We want to talk about one of the issues raised Monday and mention some angles we believe candidates should’a talked about. Next week, we’ll take a look at another.

Each candidate was asked Monday to define “unity” and to explain how they, as mayor, would accomplish same. All three did an acceptable job of defining the word, but no one explained how they plan to accomplish that goal. Perhaps these incomplete answers reflect the difficulty of coming together in our city government.

When we think of our governmental past we remember the late Terry Gardner and his many ideas that were unceremoniously shot down, primarily due to friction with some on the council.  We think of free money (grants) for public projects being denied without explanation. We think of just plain ol’ hostility between some councilers and the mayor, and between council members. 

We think of missed budget deadlines due to arguments over a city handbook. And there were the unexplained absences that led to failure to seat a quorum for scheduled meetings. A unified city government? Not even close. 

A sage said unity is various individuals with varying opinions working in unison for the best interest of the many. Within a unified group, there is no room for personal agendas. For too many years, personal agendas have twisted, not fashioned, our public policy. Unity will be a task the new Minden mayor must tackle from the get-go.

Unity can be achieved through transparency and communication, beginning at the top. We are a sum of our parts and to bring those parts together requires reason and compromise. We’re talking about reasonable give-and-take between reasonable individuals, and those have been hard to find thus far.  Our new mayor must never adopt the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” philosophy. All actions require knowledge and approval.

A unifier leads without pushing. A friendly nudge is, at times, acceptable. When each part of the governing body feels important to the ultimate goal, much can be accomplished.  Our new mayor, whomever that may be, has to be the glue that binds the many parts into one body for future accomplishments.

In our humble opinion, the next mayor also needs to broaden his horizon and seek advice from more than the usual suspects. He/She might be surprised to know there are many commoners among us with as much to offer as the perceived elite; people who seek neither the credit nor a Facebook thumbs up. They know we’re all in this together.

We consider relationships very important to a successful venture, whether it’s business or government. For much of the past four years, our governmental relationships have been dysfunctional at best. Petty squabbles practically paralyzed city operations. 

We’d like to remind whomever is elected mayor there is a city council that must be part of the solution. Problem solving isn’t combat, and compromise isn’t defeat.  There are two theories about how to deal with people who oppose everything simply because there’s a personal conflict. Neither work. For the people’s sake, get it together or go home.