The election is over, thankfully, and irrespective of whether your candidates won or lost, I think most thoughtful folks are concerned about the deep divide that has emerged in our country as a result. Mayor Ronnie and I met at LuVici’s for breakfast, seeing as City Hall was closed for Veterans’ Day, and this was one of many topics we discussed.
We talked about the fact that for many folks, disagreeing has come to mean being disagreeable, and what could be done to heal the divide? For Ronnie, some of it meant refusing to buckle under the burden of post election “doom and gloom,” irrespective of the source. The rest of it had to do with exploring the concept of allegiance to Athens.
“Last week I saw the sparkling eyes of the new members of the Youth Commission, he told me, and these kids have dreams, for themselves and for Athens. You should have heard their questions, the clapping, their answers to my questions.” I could tell the kids had recharged his batteries, and he said, with resolve, “You know, I really can’t focus much on what is going on in the national scene. We’ve got to make sure this town is the best it can be for the future of these kids.”
27 students from Athens Bible School and Athens High School chose to become part of the just commissioned Mayor’s Youth Commission. “Jackie Warner was instrumental in keeping after me to make sure I did this,” he said, and he is also thankful for the help of Holly Hollman. The kids were sworn in at the City Council Meeting on Tuesday night, November 13th. They were of all colors, both genders, and I could see what he meant by the sparkle in their eyes.
They raised their right hands and swore, as had their Council Member counterparts, to, amongst other things, uphold and protect the Constitution, both of America and Alabama. Mayor Ronnie is teaching them all about city, county, state and federal government, how bills get passed, and more. “We need to help the kids of Athens have dreams,” he said, and I think that was at least part of what he meant by having allegiance to Athens, to pave the way for a bright future with bright eyed kids.
Tuesday night he also gave a Power Point presentation entitled “Facts About Tax,” that showed in simple, clear terms both the tax rates of our city, as well as those of Elkmont, Decatur, Florence, Madison and Huntsville. The focus of the presentation, he explained, “was not to be adversarial, or to defend the recent tax increase, but to show what is going on in relation to surrounding cities.” He also illustrated the fact that Huntsville is marching west, essentially unhindered, and already owns 38 square miles of Limestone County. He dispelled the myth that Athens has the highest taxes in the state, and reiterated that as long as he was mayor, he would do everything he could to protect the City of Athens from being swallowed up by Huntsville, Madison, or Decatur. And that is what he means by allegiance to Athens, and is some of what makes Ronnie roll. By: Ali Elizabeth Turner