Published: October 30, 2011
By JIM LYNN — Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
Phenix City voters face a tremendous opportunity. The question is what will be done with it.
The opportunity is the chance to clear the political logjam that’s held the town hostage. End the stagnation of the last four years and actually move the city forward. A chance to elect leadership that’s serious about developing the riverfront and about creating a more livable community. New leadership that will explore new ideas, like smart-growth approaches to sidewalks and bike paths and stricter development controls, making the protection of our neighborhoods a higher priority.
It’s an opportunity to make good government the rule, ending cronyism and old-school ways. And rather than being the subject of jokes, to finally play a more vital role in the public life of the Columbus region.
The 2012 election can’t come soon enough for Phenix City. The talk of the town — after high school and college football, of course — is who might run against the incumbents, and who might have the political muscle needed to wrest control of city government from Councilman Jimmy Wetzel, the City Hall bad boy.
In supermarket aisles, at lunchtime gatherings, during halftimes, nearly everywhere and anywhere, it’s just next to impossible to find anyone who has good things to say about Phenix City incumbents. The constant question is “who’s gonna run?” And the answer is always the same: “Anyone but the crew down there now.”
Tax increases, an unpopular proposed $11.5 million municipal complex, questionable land deals, lack of coordinated efforts on riverfront development, vindictive politics and trivial pursuits have offended residents to the point that an unprecedented move is developing to clean house at the ballot box next year.
But as it is with so many opportunities, the questions are simple. Do enough people really care? Is there a critical mass of discontent? Will this moment be used to move the city forward?
Or will the opportunities be left on the table, leaving the town with another four years of old-school leadership that accomplishes little, if anything at all?
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