Admittedly, I am taking the bait and responding to yet another passive aggressive HIT by my fellow councilman. Many of the points in his written article are exactly things he has said in council meetings in trying to critique my role as mayor. Normally I try and stay above the fray and only call out council members when they unjustly accuse myself or other council members of ethics violations, but it is election season. I want to address the implications directly with unemotional facts and speak about both the hypocrisy, and the type of people I am hoping for on our council.
We need a mayor willing to speak directly to the public about what is happening at city hall through knocking on their door, public forums, and yes…even social media. We need council people that don’t pull political stunts like trying to take away Joe Barger’s office space in the last two months of his 40 year term as mayor. I hope voters in the city ask Joe what he thinks about the mayor’s race and Randall using his name in the column. What Ringgold needs in a council person is someone willing to stand up and say, “It’s wrong to sneak in a charter change that moves power from the elected body, and by extension the voters, to an appointed official in the city” as opposed to attacking the mayor who exposes it. A council person needs to be able to have policy disagreements without attacking the character of their fellow board members through false allegations of ethics violations as done by Randall.
The council is going through what I believe to be necessary growing pains in a political environment that demands transparency. The resulting increase in scrutiny on myself and the council by talking publicly about what we are doing is good for local democracy. Personally, I welcome that scrutiny and resulting public discourse that hones my ability to better represent the City of Ringgold. While that view is shared by some on the council, others have tried to undermine my access to information and restrict what is known by our electorate. As candidates run for office this election cycle, I encourage you to ask them about these issues and where they stand in regards to an open public discourse with their elected officials. Ask who has sat down with the owner of Farm to Fork to figure out policy changes that could bring in more successful restaurants like his, as opposed to actively hindering that development’s progress in the council meetings. Talk to the local business owners about who on the council actually spends money in their stores and supports their endeavors. Showing up for a ribbon cutting is nice and gets your face in the paper, but using them for your shopping and dining says so much more.
There is an important election this November. I hope that you not only listen to what our candidates have to say, but also actively seek out their views on important issues that will affect our city for years to come. Be diligent and exercise your right to make a difference by voting.