I just finished my seventh round of covering elections in Mesquite as a news reporter. After covering city hall and its occupants off and on since 2007, I have some advice for the winners and losers in this year’s election.
First, to those who didn’t win. Please don’t blame anyone, including yourself, for your loss. It’s just the way it works.
Now to the winners.
Please don’t mistake your winning as a sign that all those who voted for you were actually for you. Many of the votes you received were cast against your opponent. It’s just the way it works.
As our newly elected councilors take their seats, please remember a couple things. You work for us. You don’t work for the people who gave you lots of money for your campaign. The tax dollars you spend and how you spend them need to always be for the citizens and not a few people in your circle.
There are only a couple high-ranking city employees that work for you. The rest of the city employees work for the city manager. Just because you got elected doesn’t mean you can personally demand anything from any department in city hall. However, being nice to the employees doesn’t mean you have to give them the world and even more of our tax dollars.
Several of the campaign issues this year are the same issues I wrote about in 2007. The downtown appearance. Affordable housing. Diversifying the economy. Being business friendly. Bringing new businesses to town.
Now instead of just talking about them, you have a chance to actually do something. Yes, some of these age-old issues will not be solved overnight. But at least start on them.
One of those places you can start is with the Redevelopment Agency. A couple of you didn’t know when you were running for office that, if elected, you would actually sit on the RDA Board of Directors. Hopefully, now you do. There is a lot of money sitting in that fund. Put it to use. If the rules aren’t working for the beneficiaries the money is intended for, then change the rules. That’s one way to start improving Mesquite Boulevard.
Work has begun on affordable or workforce housing through a task force set up a year ago. Don’t let their recommendations sit on a dusty shelf and go nowhere. The city has a lot of land that can be put to good use for the type of housing everyone has always said the community needs. Keep moving and get something done.
The council has done a very good job the last few years making it easier for businesses to operate in Mesquite. Rules and regulations have been changed, improved, updated, and removed. Keep that train running. There’s still more that can be done and it’s your job now to get it done.
It has always intrigued me when people say the council needs to bring in more businesses. I’ve never heard the exact details of what that means or what it would take. Is the council supposed to go out to a business and demand that they come to Mesquite? Does it mean the council is supposed to pay for a business to open in Mesquite? So if the newly-elected and the sitting councilors can come up with exact details, please let us know.
One last piece of advice. You won’t always be right but just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t always make them wrong.
Good luck and good governing.
Barbara Ellestad is a reporter for Mesquite Local News.
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