Good luck in the next 4 years

Published 7:07 pm Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It’s been interesting to watch the types of campaigns run by the mayoral candidates for the City of Demopolis.

Keep in mind that as I type these words, I still have no idea who is going to win — there are still several hours before the polls close (and before deadline).

Mike Grayson has an easygoing attitude, and freely admits incumbent Cecil P. Williamson outworked him in the 2004 election. Grayson has taken pains to not make that error this time, and I’ve seen him up and down nearly every street in town stumping for votes.

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Williamson, for her part, has tried to focus on the positive things she’s done in her first term as mayor. Indeed there have been positives, but many people are stuck on the two felony indictments for theft of city services that Williamson faced. I can’t say I blame them. Those are two substantial blemishes on her resume.

The mayor finally pleaded guilty to lesser charges, but it wasn’t until an intimate meeting of a few Civitan members that she actually said she was sorry for “the mistakes I made.”

That admission came last Thursday. What I’m most interested in seeing is whether her apology helped or hindered her chances at getting re-elected. The timing of such an apology is delicate — at least when it comes to politics.

Do it too soon and it loses its punch. Do it too late and it looks like a political ploy.

I’m probably spending too much time dissecting Williamson in this column, but there’s a reason for that: she’s the incumbent. Grayson has never held the mayor’s post.

Do I think he would do a good job? Yes. But Grayson’s critics say he wouldn’t push hard enough for progress in Demopolis if he becomes mayor. They look at the relationships Williamson has built around the state and say that the mayor is making people outside the Black Belt sit up and take notice of Demopolis.

Williamson’s critics say she’s brought the wrong kind of attention to our fair city – the kind of attention that comes with indictments and accusations.

Whether she wins a second term or not, Williamson has made some positive changes in the city. The people in districts 1 and 2 feel far less disenfranchised, because for the past four years they have a mayor they feel is on their side.

If Grayson wins election Tuesday, he must take pains to honor his ideals of “one Demopolis.” He must also build upon the blocks of progress begun by his predecessor and those before her.

Whichever candidate wins, I wish them the best of luck. They’re going to need it.

Bobby Mathews is managing editor of The Times.