My Turn, Dee Dee Wright: City Council should be questioned

Published 12:08 am Sunday, September 18, 2016

I go to Salisbury City Council meetings almost every other week. Sometimes I speak and other times I don’t say anything, opting to wait to see who is going to say what.

This brings me to my point of asking what is the purpose of the Council meetings? Is it a place where “you scratch my back and I scratch yours?” Bess Truman, wife of President Harry S. Truman stated, “If two people always agree, then one of them is not necessary.”

I watched with amazement when Councilman Kenny Hardin asked for the economic plan for the rest of city outside of downtown. It was similar to the many who’ve asked for the “real numbers” for Fibrant. When one councilman stated the numbers for the new brewery did not match or make sense, yet proceed for vote, that left me to wonder why?

Either we agree or not. It seems to me the members of the businesses and private communities would want to know our elected officials are good stewards of our tax money.

I remember being at council meetings when there was rarely a time the council disagreed. Of course, that was before Mr. Hardin was elected. However, when he asks questions, he is treated disrespectfully by being called out or talked over.

A healthy discussion is always better than just going along with what the majority wants to do for their own personal aggrandizement. I’m delighted Mr. Hardin is on council, as he brings a different perspective and a measured and thoughtful way the city does its business.

My work in this city and county has been consistent. I’ve served as chair of the Planning Board, worked the polls for 15 years, served on the 20/20 Plan and many other the committees and boards. But, when I ask about doing work for my community, there is always a caveat and nothing is being done. I have not done this work alone. I have worked with Mr. Hardin and other community leaders to make this city whole for over two decades.

So when some criticized him for asking questions, I saw others get annoyed and how they were erroneously led to believe he is being disagreeable. Mr. Hardin is who he says he is and will not waver in his commitment to serve this city.

There is an old saying, “He puts it where the goats can get it,” and that is why many start to feel uncomfortable. A friend of mine once asked whether all lawyers are the same. This is like asking whether everything that gets into a sewer is garbage. All five people who sit on the council are different and have their own ideas about which direction this city should be going.

The key is for each to respect the others’ ideas and thew level of expertise they bring, while molding together into one cohesive voice. Mr. Hardin has his concerns for this city and has a right to express them without others appearing to get upset, trying to shut him up or being more concerned about what their friends will say. Their goal should be doing what is best for this city and not some friendship.

Dee Dee Wright lives in Salisbury.