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Voters who live in the city of Ghent have a serious task before them on Nov. 6.
Nine candidates are vying for the four seats available on the city commission, for terms that will begin Jan. 1, 2013, and end Dec. 31, 2015. Only one incumbent is seeking re-election, which means there will be at least three new faces on the commission next year.
Considering the turmoil that Ghent’s elected and appointed officials have faced during the past year, it should be crystal clear that voters give a lot of thought to what they really want from their city.
To be blunt, there hasn’t been a lot of cooperation between most members of the commission and the mayor for at least the past year. In fact, there has been a lot of outright hostility. There have been commission meetings that have lasted only minutes after being called to order because issues brought before commissioners are met with tense, defiant silence.
Issues that affect all residents of the city, and certainly could have an impact on the city’s future, are left to die on the table because these commissioners refuse even to discuss them, let alone vote on them.
This kind of childish behavior makes one think that perhaps people don’t realize that running for city government – no matter how small or large the city is – is not the same thing as running for student council in high school. It is not about who is the most popular, who is the prettiest or even who is the biggest bully.
Operating within the parameters of local ordinances and state laws, as well as a code of ethics, commissioners must be willing to represent everyone in their city – not just their friends and neighbors, or themselves.
It is imperative that Ghent voters meet their candidates and find out exactly why each one of them is on the ballot. Do they want to keep the city moving forward and do what’s best for its citizens? Or, do they have personal agendas and vendettas?
Ghent voters must go the polls armed with information so they can elect those candidates who clearly understand the role they will play as government officials. Voters must choose candidates who are not just familiar with the laws and ordinances they will be sworn to uphold, they must elect candidates who also have a clear understanding of those laws and ordinances – or those who are willing to do the work they need to do to obtain that knowledge and understanding.
The News-Democrat will assist with providing information on the candidates by publishing their responses to questionnaires later in October.
Ghent needs – and deserves – a city commission that will work ethically and enthusiastically toward the goal of serving the best interests of the city’s residents. Perhaps, with the right people at the helm, the city could once again become more like it was through the mid-1900s – a thriving, vibrant city with a lot to offer residents and visitors alike.
The deadline to register to vote in Carroll County is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9.