Published 11:18 am Saturday, November 10, 2007

By Staff
Now that the Washington municipal elections are over, it’s going to be interesting to see what the council-members elect do or try to do during their two-year terms that start next month.
It’s going to be interesting to see how they work with Mayor Judy Meier Jennette, who may not see eye to eye with the majority of council members on some key issues facing the city.
The council members and mayor will at least be civil to one another. When they disagree, and they will disagree from time to time, they will do it in a respectful manner.
But the mayor and new council can’t do it alone. They need help from those who put them in office.
For many Washington voters, if vote results are any indication, the “growth-minded” candidates, as one advertisement identified them, were not who they wanted leading the city for the next two years. Many voters believed Jennette had aligned herself with those candidates — Mickey Gahagan, Dot Moate, Tom Atkins, John Tate and Darwin Woolard.
With the exception of Woolard, who won another term on the council, they were the candidates who receive the fewest votes on Election Day.
Although each candidate expressed the need for growth in the city, apparently each candidate’s views on growth determined each one’s fate in the council race. The majority of voters opted for what’s been termed the “green team,” a group of people who define growth in more conservative — for lack of a better word — terms than those candidates who were given the “growth-minded” label.
But issues other than growth are on the minds of the “green team” members.
Doug Mercer, the top vote-getter in the council race, will become mayor pro tempore, if the council follows its tradition of choosing the top vote-getter to run council meetings in the absence of the mayor. Mercer wants to address the city’s fiscal health and fiscal policies as soon as he returns to the council.
Look for Mercer to take a close look at the city’s electric department.
When interviewed in October, Mercer said the city must stop viewing its electric fund as an ATM that provides money to subsidize other city services and functions. Mercer said he wants to try to find ways to reduce electric rates charged by the city. At some council meetings in the past year or so, Mercer has appeared to talk about the need to better run the electric fund and find ways to reduce electric rates.
Those statements apparently found support among city voters.
Archie Jennings believes city residents want to hear options when it comes to providing creative solutions to problems.
Voters have given him two more years to provide those creative solutions.
Richard Brooks also wants to improve the city’s financial health. The city must live within its means, he said.
Washington must continue to explore economic-development opportunities that bring more jobs, especially high-paying jobs, to the city, Brooks said.
Gil Davis has said the city must do more to address its drainage problems, particularly in the Jack’s Creek basin. To help solve those problems, the existing drainage system needs improvement and expansion, Davis said. Doing so will require replacing or upgrading the infrastructure that handles stormwater runoff, Davis said.
There’s no doubt the new council and veteran mayor will have plenty to keep them busy during the next two years. They have much work to do when it comes to making Washington better. But they can’t do it alone.
They need the help of the voters who put them in office. City residents must help them determine which path Washington will take.
Going to the polls this week and choosing a new council just begins the process.
It’s time for voters to begin showing up and speaking up at council meetings, Planning Board meetings and electric utilities advisory board meetings. There’s more to helping determine the city’s future than just marking ballots.