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Cities can lead regional growth

Staff Editorial

Across the state on Monday, new mayors and city council members were sworn in to office to officially kick off a new four-year term.

In West Alabama, a number of newly elected officials took office – some under clouds of election turmoil.

J. B. Washington takes the mayor’s office with a legal challenge to his election being waged by Vanessa Hill.

In Marion, a huge absentee vote catapulted Tony Long into office.

The shroud of doubt doesn’t hang over Demopolis, however. Cecil Williamson takes the office Austin Caldwell has inhabited for nearly two decades. Jack Cooley, Charles Jones Sr., and Melvin Yelverton join a city council long-marked for its level of cooperation. Veterans Woody Collins and Thomas Moore will no doubt step into roles of leadership on the council and can provide the continuity that is so often necessary for continued growth in a small city.

The shoes that Williamson must now wear are big, but she has the ability to wear them well. She shares with Washington, Long and the other Black Belt mayors the compelling duty to rise to the occasion, provide the leadership to heal election wounds and, ultimately, move our region forward.

The next four years presents an unparalleled opportunity for achievement for our cities. Never before has Alabama focused as much attention on the Black Belt as now, and with the dedication of our cities’ elected officials, we can drive that focus for the growth our region so desperately needs.

That goal can easily be accomplished if each elected official concentrates on what is best for The People, rather than on the special interests and private agendas that so often complicate the landscape of municipal growth.

Together we can accomplish great things in this new term. Together we can move West Alabama forward.