Tuesday’s runoff elections completed the remaking of Anniston’s City Council, a team of novice politicians that, in its previous form, spent most waking moments dividing its time between embarrassing the city and stunting its progress with a series of laughable escapades, lawsuits and inquiries into alleged corruption.
Those days are over. We certainly hope they are.
In a month, a new team of novice politicians — council members Jay Jenkins, David Reddick, Seyram Selase and Millie Harris — will join Mayor-elect Vaughn Stewart as the guardians of Anniston’s path. We are confident those five will do a better job than those voters selected in the unfortunate election of 2008.
Anniston has been given a second chance. It’s providential. For all the damage done by the previous council’s infighting and bumbling, Anniston is not a city whose walls are crumbling around it like a biblical town being struck down from above. It is a city with slowed progress and deep needs, but likewise a city invigorated by the energy shown in this year’s elections.
Alas, vestiges of 2008 are still nipping at the edges of Anniston’s positive vibes. Seen at Tuesday’s City Council meeting was Ralph Bradford, one of the multitude of residents who ran for mayor, asking for a recount of the Aug. 28 vote. (Bradford, hardly a challenger against Stewart, received just 80 of the nearly 5,000 votes cast, by the way.) With only a month remaining as an Anniston councilman, Ben Little joined with Bradford to sing an off-key duet of complaints against what they say is an election riddled with mistakes.
Not only that, Little wants Anniston — not Bradford — to pay for the recount. To Little, the state law that requires the person requesting the recount to post a bond to cover the cost is an insignificant matter.
Our hope: This will be the final time we’ll feel compelled to mention Little’s unsubstantiated rants and allegations.
When sworn in next month, Stewart and the incoming council will face the vital task of restoring confidence in a City Hall battered by squabbling and soiled by councilmen’s actions. Excellence has been absent for several years. That said, we don’t expect Anniston’s new squad of leaders will be mistake-free. Those leaders are human, and only Jenkins — by virtue of his brief time as an appointee to the current council — has previously sat on Anniston’s political dais. It will take time.
Let’s be clear: Not all the council’s votes over the next four years will be 5-0. Disagreements will exist. Leaders will present competing ideas. Viable alternatives will be debated. The key will be to do so without (a.) hurling insults at each other and residents, (b.) running off to court every time a council member is on the losing end, or (c.) becoming distracted by the trivial. Do this and progress may once take up residence in Anniston.
Yes, the clock is ticking on the city’s future. Some may be impatient and want immediate improvement; we understand. But our focus must be on what’s ahead, on what needs to be done, and not on the machinations of recent years. That’s old, tiring news.