Fort Smith: Time for a Revolution? | Street Jazz

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fort Smith: Time for a Revolution?

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Fort Smith: Time for a Revolution?

It’s an interesting race for mayor in Fort Smith. Roy Baker, holding the job since 1971 (his campaign slogan is the simple “Doing his job”) is running against upstart Sandy Sanders. Both men have radically different views on what a mayor should be.

Now, remember, folks, the office of mayor in the hamlet of Fort Smith is largely ceremonial, given that city managers run the city. Baker believes that a mayor is basically a ribbon-cutter, proclamation deliverer, and presides over meetings of city directors, plus heading up the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Sanders thinks the mayor should be more aggressive in promoting economic development in the community, and work with city directors on issues coming before them.

Sounds almost like Fayetteville 20 years ago, except that the change was coming not from those running for office, but from the citizenry.

Many in Fayetteville chafed under the yoke of the city manager system for a long time, with mayors ho were largely hands-off, with no vision. 1992 saw the end of that, with the city voting to put in the system of mayor/council.

What the majority of citizens in Fayetteville wanted was a full-time mayor, one who didn’t hide behind managers. We didn’t want someone who was just a glad-hander, a cheerleader, a ribbon-cutter, a giver of inspirational speeches, someone who would preside over community meetings while others did the heavy lifting behind the velvet curtain.

What we decided in 1992 was to vote for men and women with passion and vision, and then hopefully push that vision once they settled into City Hall.

I wonder how much longer Fort Smith will rely on unelected managers to run their city government?

******

"This election, it’s no more Politics as usual.” Oh, give me a break!

How many election years have I heard some fatuous television political analyst make that remark, thinking they were imparting some great Truth to the Masses? Not only do they not know anything about history, they have never turned on a damned television set.

*****

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The fear of poetry is an indication that we are cut off from our own reality. - Muriel Rukeyser

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