The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 7, 2011

CINDY'S CORNER: Fresh faces offer Enid opportunity

By Cindy Allen, Managing Editor
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Enid voters actually have people to vote for in this year’s city election. Even though not every ward is up for election, every registered voter in the Enid city limits has the opportunity to have a say on a new mayor.

Wards 1, 2 and 5 also have races for city commissioner. This is the first time in awhile Enid residents actually have a variety of choices when it comes to who will govern policy of this city for the next several years.

The city has had its share of controversy, particularly over two areas -- the citywide cleanup begun four years ago and now the downtown redevelopment project in which the city wants to build a new event center and find a purposeful use for Convention Hall.

These items have been contentious and not everyone has agreed on the methods the city has taken to address these issues. But, most agree the appearance of the city and the development of downtown have been needed to be addressed for quite some time.

While many focus on the controversies, the city has actually done some pretty good work, particularly in the area of budgeting and cost savings. The city has saved a lot of money on sanitation collection and they’ve also saved a lot of money on the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant.

While the actual day-to-day operations of the city are the responsibility of staff, the people who sit on the city commission actually set the tone for the attitude the entire city is identified with.

And, unfortunately, that is where some of the problems have occurred. It is difficult to listen to the people, believe me. Sometimes, the people just to complain. Sometimes, the people won’t be happy with you. Sometimes, they won’t like you at all, and sometimes, they will loudly criticize you.

City commissioners absolutely have to be able to listen to criticism without it getting under their skin too much. That is a tall order for ordinary people. A lot of people spend their entire lives and careers only hearing about how wonderful they are or how special they are.

When they throw their hat into the ring for public office, the ballgame changes. They are mostly going to hear about how they could have done things better or how they are not doing a good job.  That is just the nature of the business of being in public office.

As I look over the list of contenders for mayor and city commissioners, a few people stand out as folks who really have a vision for Enid and who want to move it forward.  There are also, unfortunately, some people who really should not be elected to public office.

In my opinion, Enid has an opportunity to make a sea change in leadership from the old guard to a new guard. There are some fresh faces in this community who have made their home here and who believe in Enid and believe what Enid can do. They aren’t necessarily weighed down by “the way things have always been.” They still believe in “the way things could be.”

It is my hope several of these people will be elected to represent Enid. It is my hope new people will get out and vote on Tuesday. It is my hope we actually see a huge increase in voter participation for Enid city elections.

This is a real opportunity for the Enid electorate to help set a new tone and vision for the city. I only hope they take that opportunity.