Hold their feet to the fire
Over the past two years, decorum at a Hopewell City Council meeting had been reduced to the point where its picture was on community bulletin boards around the city under the words, “Have you seen me?”
With the seating of the new council in the Wonder City, we hope those pictures can come down and we can witness a joyous family reunion. The optics we saw at Wednesday’s organizational meeting all seemed to point to an era of good feeling, but the true test will come in the next few meetings when this council’s new-car smell wears off.
To a person, each councilor vowed to not repeat what the previous incarnation of council did, Decisions and debates would be fact-based with all emotions checked at the door. Discussions could be lively and differences could be aired — but not aired alongside dirty laundry and snippy comments. In short, the new City Council would adopt the Aretha Franklin hit “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” as its new anthem.
We certainly hope they hold true to their word, because right now, that is all we have on which to judge them.
But, good citizens of Hopewell, do not use “accountability” and “self-policing” interchangeably. Sure, we can count on those on the dais to hold their truths to be self-evident, but their ultimate accountability is in your hands.
Make them prove to you that pettiness, snarkiness and all those other bad -nesses really are in the past. Let them hear your voices and opinions on topics, good and bad. Turn out for council meetings and watch them in action. Make this new council earnits futurecriticism, constructive and otherwise.
We as your newspaper of record take our role seriously as the main information vehicle for our community, but even the best-written articles and strongly worded editorials cannot hold a candle to witnessing something first-hand.
Just recently, we saw what can happen when people do not make their voices heard. Hopewell was being asked to spend between $1 million and $1.1 million on a piece of self-admitted eyesore property, but it took first a tie vote, followed by a double-switch in votes to keep that from happening. Why? Because when that council gave you a chance to say to their faces what you were posting all over social media and arguing about at the corner eatery, you were drowned out by the chirping of crickets.
The New Year is a time of resolutions, and this shiny new City Council has made its chief resolution to earn back the trust that seemed to be lacking in the previous time. You need to match their resolution with your own — resolve to hold them to their word. Accountability is an everyday issue, not one just saved for every fourth November.