AT WEEK’S END: Be sure to make your voice heard



April 3, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Tuesday Iolans will vote in a non-binding election to give their preference to city commissioners for the size they think would be best for our town’s governing body. Polls open at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Carpenter and Cottonwood streets.
Don’t fail to express your opinion. The vote — Commissioner Bill Shirley and Mayor Bill Maness have said they would abide by the result — will have far-reaching effects on Iola. City commissioners have the right to set the size and scope of the incoming governing body, including whether it operates as a city commission or city council.
The choices are five-, seven- or nine-member commissions, including a mayor.
While the language on the ballot lists all three options as “commissions” the question is solely to determine the size, City Attorney Chuck Apt said. The existing commissioners will decide whether the next governing body is a commission or council.
For full disclosure, I was part of the 14-member volunteer committee, which eventually recommended to city commissioners that they adopt a charter ordinance to change governance of Iola to a body of six, four elected from wards and two at-large, with a mayor also elected at-large. Noting there was support for all three options among committee members, commissioners decided to let voters have a say.
I then preferred a four-person commission and strong mayor, meaning he or she would vote when any decision was made. A commission of four members would be more efficient by the very nature that fewer people can come to agreement easier than more. They also would respond more quickly if immediacy were called for.
However, whatever voters think is best will get no argument from me.

THE ONLY reason to have government is collectively to do what we can’t individually. Think street construction and maintenance, fire and police protection, recreation, provision of reasonably priced utilities, and just about everything that affects everyday life.
And government works best when it embraces all within its boundaries and gives each citizen the opportunity to have a say, at the polls and, at their discretion, as a candidate.
Compassion and common sense may be the most important of qualifications for a candidate. To our very great advantage, we have many folks in all corners of town who are generously so blessed.
Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election, it should be accepted by all. We should move forward with a spirit of cooperation and focus our energies on making Iola as inviting and livable as it can be.

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