Last week, Anniston City Manager Don Hoyt lent his voice to the conversation about how the city should go about redistricting its council wards. We were glad to publish his views (“Analyzing Anniston’s growth,” Jan. 18 column) concerning this vital though often overlooked process of creating representative districts.
We still contend that the redistricting process favors incumbents, a fact that sends chills down the spines of many in Anniston. The bias toward the status quo can be an obstacle in effective city government, and status quo is the last thing the city needs now.
However, if wards are to be the rule for Anniston — and by court order they are for now — one overriding theme must be top of mind for mapmakers: Anniston is one large community of interest when it comes to the city’s future prosperity.
Regardless of where the lines fall in the new ward map, Anniston must see the city as a whole. All 22,000 Anniston residents are in this together.
Our success in smartly growing the economy will depend less on ward boundaries and more on a coming together of leaders to produce actions that will lead the city to a brighter future.
The fundamentals to this are no big secret. Anniston needs better schools, which in turn will attract businesses as well as produce a well-qualified workforce. Better jobs will generate more wealth that will be spread across the community — its businesses, its nonprofit institutions that build quality of life and its city coffers.
Once in motion, this cycle of successful growth builds on itself. Anniston gains a reputation as a quality place to live, to work and to be educated. These qualities are attractive to employers and retailers who clamor to come aboard.
The biggest community interest is growth. The politics of division have played out in the worst way at City Hall over the past four years. The priority for the upcoming city elections is in voting for a council that will work together for growth, not tear each other down through tired, old ward politics.