Our opinion: Reflections on recent municipal election

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Some were disappointed that “only” 20 percent of the City of Americus’ registered voters turned out to cast their ballots in the recent Municipal Election, while others believe this number to be more than anticipated. We won’t belabor that point, but we will thank those who did make their choices known for doing so. Voting is a vital component in our form of government in America. The right to vote, which is actually a privilege, should be undertaken as a serious civic duty and voters should be educated so they can make informed choices.
With all that being said, we congratulate the winners and we also thank those who stepped out to seek elected office and didn’t succeed this time. We remind our elected officials not to become too comfortable, too complacent or arrogant because you never know who wants your job, and can ultimately take it.
We asked the four candidates — incumbent Mayor Barry Blount and opponent Laura Lee Bernstein, and District 5 Council member Shirley Green Reese and contender Kelvin Pless — for a statement after the results were in. Blount was reelected and Pless overtook Reese for her seat.
Here is what they said.
Blount: “It’s extremely humbling. I’m very appreciative of the people of Americus for electing me for a fourth term. I feel like we’ve accomplished a lot over the last four years and we’ve got a good foundation to propel us into the next four years. I’m looking forward to many positive things happening to our community. We’ve got some momentum in job creation. We have some good things coming up with retail developments coming to town, hopefully in the next few months. I’m very positive about the future of our community with the enrollment at Georgia Southwestern and South Georgia Tech continuing to climb every year … and new energy coming in with [Georgia Southwestern President] Dr. Neal Weaver. I’m just really thrilled about what the future holds for Americus.”
Bernstein: “I would like to thank everyone who voted in Tuesday’s election, as well as my family who supported me and my desire to run for public office and help change this community for the better. It was such an honor to meet so many citizens of Americus and to see and hear how you want to improve your city. Mayor Blount ran a very good race and I hope you will work with him and continue your civic engagement.”
Pless: “First, I thank God and the voters of District 5 for choosing me as their representative on the Americus City Council. I am humbled and will accept this opportunity with great humility. As promised, I will serve the great citizens of District 5 and Americus with integrity and loyalty. I acknowledge and applaud Dr. Shirley Green Reese in her effort and passion to continue to serve the citizens. I will stand on my slogan, Your Town – Our Town – Americus Come Alive! It will take all of us to bring life to the things we desire for the improvements and greatness of our city. I will share the words of a great President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.’ In our case, ask what you can do for our City. Let us bring our gifts and visions together as one to enhance our City in every capacity!”
Reese had no comment.
We would also remind everyone that this was no “landslide” election. There is always room for change and improvement. Elected officials should keep their own agendas out of the public sector and concentrate on what is good for all the citizens. Public service is difficult and requires sacrifice. We appreciate those willing to serve for the public good.
We thank Shirley Green Reese for her service on city council and for her contributions to this community. We also thank Laura Lee Bernstein for being willing to lend her talents to public service.
And we look forward to the future in Americus. We feel that good things are on the horizon.