The Sunday ABH reports (we couldn't find a link, did the ABH deliberately snub Blake?) that mayoral candidate Keith Johnson has advanced one of the biggest new ideas in the election so far. Ok, actually, the biggest, no question. Possibly doing away with the unified government model and going back to separate city and county governments.
We're not so sure about this one. Now, Johnson's reasoning - that rural (mostly living on the north side of the county) residents are still not getting equal access to water, sewer, and garbage service - is sound, and we agree with him that it needs to be fixed yesterday. And don't get us started on the whole fire protection issue over there. (Did five-points really need a new station worse than north Athens needed one at all? Oh, and your clock tower looks like a phallus) We're glad that Johnson is actually talking about this issue, and we'll hope that if he's elected, he'll do more than pay lip service to it.
But, we're not so sure about scrapping the unified government to accomplish it. Unified government is not the issue here. The issue is the ACC Commission which seems to care more about smoking bans, rental registration, and playing politics with the local judiciary than it does with the real quality of life issues that affect residents outside of Cedar Creek, Five Points, Boulevard, and Cobbham. To be really blunt, perhaps one issue is their representation on the ACC Commission. Harry Sims has been there for a few terms, he was just re-elected last year. We know he's one voice out of eleven, and he can't do anything unilaterally, but we wonder why after his time on the Commission, this issue is still largely unresolved. We like Harry, and we don't want to question his effectiveness or his integrity (which is very strong), but it does make one wonder.
The problem here, as we see it, can be solved from the inside out, without resorting to upending the entire structure. As one of our friends here has pointed out, the office of mayor isn't super-powerful, but it's a great bully pulpit. If Johnson is elected, we hope he'll lend his voice and his pulpit to the people who are trying to advance sewers over surveillance cameras, and city water over smoking bans.
Still, we'd like to give Keith Johnson some props for being one of two candidates who are talking about issues. (The other being Andy Rusk.)
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