I was as surprised, and pleased, as many others were when Ken Cook filed his candidacy papers for Mesquite’s 2016 mayoral race.
I was even more surprised and disappointed when he withdrew.
Cook has always been the poster child for what private citizens can and should do for their community. If you don’t like something then work toward a positive change, don’t just sit back and complain about it.
That is the one characteristic I have always admired about Cook.
So when he said in his withdrawal statement that “I have concluded that the lack of leadership, vision and progress of the current administration has caused Mesquite to be at least 10 years away from developing into a well-balanced, thriving and respected community,” I was quite amazed and very disappointed.
Election campaigns should be a time when the community gets a chance to reflect back on the last few years and discuss the direction we should go in the next few.
Mesquite certainly did that in the last mayoral campaign in 2011. After four years of bad, bad administration and decision-making, citizens decided to go in a different direction. We elected a new mayor and three new council members.
Some changes were immediate and others have taken longer. Most were vast improvements over previous practices while some, like union employee negotiations, not so much.
Most of the time changes in government come slowly, very slowly. I’ve been working on an issue with city government for five years and don’t feel any closer now to a resolution than when I started. But I’m not giving up on it.
Cook shouldn’t have either.
The concept for the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center began in the early 2000s. At the time, many residents pooh-poohed the idea as pie-in-the-sky. In 2012 when Lower Flat Top Mesa Drive was extended to W. Pioneer Blvd, a lot of people called it the “Road to Nowhere.”
But visions held 16 years ago are becoming more and more evident in that area.
Yes, progress has been slow. Yes, there are still more empty lots than most of us would like.
Cook shares a great deal of responsibility and credit for the businesses that are now set for construction in that area in the next year to 18 months through his work with Mesquite Regional Business, Inc. He and a couple others spent hundreds of hours and some of their own money traveling to Las Vegas, California and other places to introduce Mesquite’s many virtues to potential businesses. We are seeing the fruits of his labor.
I’m sad that he doesn’t see the leadership, vision and progress in his and others’ efforts with MRBI that brought Mesquite five years closer to “developing into a well-balanced, thriving and respected community.”
While the current administration perhaps deserves some of his criticism, at least the council and mayor are being extremely careful when crafting contracts with businesses to safeguard the community assets. That alone is a huge improvement over previous administrations and is exactly what we asked for in the 2011 mayoral campaign.
There are many other issues we’ve dealt with over and over through the years, some without apparent solutions from government. In all likelihood we’ll be dealing with them in the next mayoral campaign.
But taking your bat and ball and going home when the game is half over and you’re behind by a couple runs is not the way to move towards a well-balanced, thriving and respected community.
Yes, Mr. Cook, Mesquite is 10 years away from whatever but we’re five years closer than we were in the last mayoral election.
You had a lot of cheerleaders on your sideline. People were excited and anxious to have a productive discussion between the current mayor and someone who has worked long and hard for continual improvement in the city like you. People wanted to hear your ideas and vision for the next ten years of which you stood a good chance of leading for at least the first four.
We’ll still have a discussion between the two remaining candidates but I’m pretty sure it won’t be as vigorous and robust as it could have been with you in it.
It’s not easy to be an elected official and not get everything you want as fast as you want it. It’s not easy to stay in the fight when all it seems you get in return is a bloody nose.
For years, you chose to stay in the fight as a champion of Mesquite, wipe the blood off your face and keep working instead of just complaining.
Most of us still aren’t sure what caused your change of mind and change of heart and withdrawal from the mayoral race.
All we really know is that you chose to leave before the last inning was over. Your bat and ball are gone and you’re off the field.
But the game will go on and Mesquite will win.