I was recently at lunch with a friend. We had remarked about the raging wildfires in Australia, the growing tensions with Iran, the potential split in a large Christian denomination, the Reds signing Shogo Akiyama (the first Asian player signed by the club) and Tom Brady and his Patriots losing a home playoff game. We were both amazed that 2020 was turning out to be consequential and we hadn’t even hit the first Monday of the year.
And while it is amazing how the first few days of the New Year was turning out, there is certainly more to come. Of course, we have a Presidential Election, which will be the most consequential election of our lifetimes (aren’t they all). This year we also see another rendition of the Summer Olympics, this time being held in Tokyo.
If we pay closer attention to home, maybe there is more to come. For one, both the communities of Piqua and Troy are celebrating new leadership. In Piqua, Kris Lee, a native son of the community, was recently named by their city commission as their next mayor.
Mayor Lee is the first African-American to hold the position. Here in Troy, Robin Oda, the community’s first woman mayor is now at the helm at the corner of Market and Franklin streets. History has been made in both communities.
But, there is something else happening in one of our communities as well. One of the issues facing the city of Piqua is the public discussion on how they should be governed; should they revoke their own charter and revert back to a statutory form of local government or should they retain the status quo? Efforts are being undertaken to place this question on the ballot in November.
On the surface, it seems like a pretty arcane debate. Statutory what? Charter huh? It’s one of those issues that when in its discussed, it leads to a lot more questions than it does answers.
And it’s an important debate. I am one of those who earnestly believe that your local government means more to our residents than anything that can happen at even the state and federal level. Yes, those policy makers are important. But at the end of the day, it’s your local government that provides you with safe streets, clean water and other basic necessities of life.
Over the next few months, the issue will be debated. And those in the debate have a solemn responsibility. Too many times our political debate, especially on the national and even state level, have gotten too hyperbolic, too mean spirited, just too much.
And maybe that is the nature of the beast. It’s easy to tear down those we don’t agree with, especially those that we don’t have to meet on the street or share a church pew. We can beat up the Hillary Clintons and the Donald Trumps of the world. We rationalize it. We’ll never meet them, plus they are used to it or the other side started it.
But it’s different at the local level. Any political discussion, especially one that is so fundamental as to change the way a community is run, has the chance to be beyond negative. It’s far too easy for some to get caught up in the passion of the battle and lose sight of what’s at stake, which is a community where people live, work and play.
My hope for 2020 is that as this political discussion takes shape and runs its course, is that the leaders on every side of the discussion take their responsibility to be kind and fair honest brokers for their side of the argument.
They can politely disagree with the facts without calling the motives and the integrity of their opponents into question. They can be honest when they discuss the consequences of the actions being proposed. They can work together to find common areas of agreement and work to create a better community, no matter what the result of this effort.
Or they can be just like what we see on television coming from our national leaders.
Our communities deserve better.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.