Anniston’s sunny outlook: Mayor, council are right to tout positives, but we all have to help
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 06, 2013 | 3529 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston mayor Vaughn Stewart smiles as he listens to public comments at a city council meeting. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Anniston mayor Vaughn Stewart smiles as he listens to public comments at a city council meeting. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart is the city’s biggest cheerleader, advocate and PR rep. His Gurnee Avenue pulpit gives him a stage he’s thus far using well.

Since taking office in November, the amiable first-year mayor has fed Annistonians a consistent, positive theme: Anniston is a city of great promise and great people that needs to take advantage of what it has.

We agree. With steady improvements, smart management and a visionary leadership, Anniston can reach for the stars.

On Tuesday, Stewart took his message to the Anniston Rotary Club, where he told listeners precisely what you’d expect from the city’s top fan. “The stars seem to be aligned for Anniston, and it’s up to us to seize the moment,” he said. That window won’t be open forever.”

The mayor’s right — again. It’s a competitive world: for business, for industrial recruitment, for government funding. The clock’s always ticking. Those who wait, lose.

Anniston, a city coming off four of its worst-ever years of elected leadership, can’t be a passive player. Opportunity comes to those who aggressively and unfailingly seek it.

Time will tell if Stewart and the newly elected City Council can right Anniston’s wobbly ship. We have equal amounts of hope and high expectations. If anything, City Hall’s new inhabitants have given residents reasons to believe that brighter days will come now that incompetence and sophomoric behavior have been booted to the Gurnee curb. That has to stand for something.

It’s commendable that Stewart and the council have embarked on a listening tour throughout the city’s four wards. We’re not surprised that the meetings have been vigorous and well attended. Annistonians are eager for a city that moves forward instead of wallowing in the muck of political folly. They want to hear — and see — which paths Anniston’s leadership will take.

So do we.

City Hall has deemed this first year of the Stewart tenure as a year of strategic planning. That’s a safe and needed strategy. Heaven knows the council elected in 2008 were oblivious to the necessity of planning a city’s lines of attack. As such, Stewart and Co. have a blank slate with which to work.

However, to reuse the mayor’s words, “the window won’t be open forever.” Annistonians have heard some of the mayor and council’s plans; they’re intriguing.

Here are a couple of important reminders: 1. This is a job for the entire city. Residents can’t merely outsource this work to its elected leadership. We all have a role here. 2. In pursuing this brighter future, the city needs a list of, say, three priorities, the top goals we want to achieve. Everyone — from business leaders to volunteer agencies to politicians to civic groups and beyond — should be able to recite those top three priorities.

This is what we want and this is what we need to get there. In other words, we have to get on the same page.
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