Leadership is key for mayor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

Staff Editorial

Now that the first municipal election is out of the way, we’re sure to see campaigning get serious over the course of the next three weeks.

Sept. 14, run-off elections are slated for all municipal offices.

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In hot dispute is the Demopolis mayoral election that pits Cecil Porter Williamson, leading with 926 votes, will face off against Mike Grayson, who captured 566 votes.

Also hotly contested will be city council races between Freddie Charleston and Charles E. Jones Sr. in District 2 and incumbent Mike Baker and Jack Cooley in District 5.

Candidates campaigned hard and dug their way into run-off elections, and did so with a minimal amount of discomfort to anyone concerned, except, perhaps, the voters who didn’t have anything that clearly separated the field.

For Demopolis, the mayoral race is becoming more clearly defined. Mike Grayson is owns several businesses and is active in many community pursuits. Cecil Williamson, who owns a business with her husband Wayne, is also active in community affairs. The difference, as we see it, is leadership.

Speaking to The Times following the vote counting at City Hall Tuesday night, Grayson made that observation himself.

Demopolis, like the other municipalities across the Black Belt with run offs for mayor and council members, is poised at a very critical juncture. The decision about who will lead our communities into the next era shouldn’t be made lightly and shouldn’t be made based on who’s hot dog tastes the best.

The decision about a city’s leadership has to be made, we believe, on the basis of who can can offer the greatest, most meaningful leadership – in vision and direction as well as in leadership the effective representation of the community to the outside world.

Administrative and managerial abilities, while important, isn’t what we as voters should base our decisions on. After all, that’s why a city hires competent professionals to manage its departments.

What’s important is leadership – the ability to forge a direction and inspire others to take that path. Leadership is also about taking on the tough issues, answering the hard questions and showing others how to be accountable.

That’s what makes a community successful over the long haul, and it’s what makes a community dynamic. It’s the quality of leadership – both from its elected officials and from civic leaders.

Growing a town demands partnership. And only a talented leader can develop the broad, diverse partnership that it takes to marshal development, growth and a higher quality of life.