Though turnout in this spring’s election wasn’t what we would like to have seen, those voters who wanted to speak did so loudly and clearly, at least with regard to the Manhattan City Commission.
In electing Karen McCulloh, Usha Reddi and Rich Jankovich, voters rejected the excessively tight-fisted policies of the present commission. They did more: they reminded anyone paying attention that when a commission swings too far in one direction, they will change its direction.
We congratulate Mrs. McCulloh, Mrs. Reddi and Mr. Jankovich for their victories. We also congratulate Marcia Rozell, Pat Hudgins and Aaron Estabrook, who won seats on the Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education.
And though losing is painful, we are grateful for the willingness to serve of Debbie Nuss, Bob Strawn, John Ball and Daniel Hogan in the City Commission race and of Mitch Beims, who finished fourth in the school board race. The least any of them did was contribute to essential discussions and give voters a better understanding of the issues. Our city is stronger for their active participation.
As members of the new City Commission get acquainted, we hope that the two members who were not up for re-election, Wynn Butler and John Matta, recognize that a majority of voters seek more moderation than they demonstrated the last two years. Repaying debt and keeping taxes low are important, but they are not all that is important.
We similarly hope that the new members, Mrs. McCulloh and Mrs. Reddi, don’t misinterpret their election as a mandate for radical change. It’s worth noting that voters thought highly enough of the performance of Mr. Jankovich, a relative moderate during his first term, to re-elect him over well-known candidates whose election would have given the commission a solid conservative or solid liberal bias.
Our sense is that voters seek a commission that’s both centrist and efficient. It is voters’ preference that commissioners are willing to invest in opportunities — programs and activities — that strengthen this community while remaining cognizant of the fact that the money they’re spending is taxpayers’ money.
The new commission contains not just differing philosophies but strong personalities. That make-up can lead to strife that undermines progress, but we share with voters the hope that it results in collaboration that fosters progress. We’ll be a better community for it.