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Political Division Doesn’t Have To Mean Gridlock

For the first time in more than a decade, Republicans will control a branch of Jamestown city government after incumbent Brent Sheldon, R-Ward 1, was confirmed as the winner of his tightly contested race against challenger Tim Smeal.

It appears, from city Republican Party Chairman Brent Sheldon’s recent comments, that Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2, serve as the next City Council president. That means one of the council’s two longest-tenured members will serve in a leadership capacity with an ability to help drive both city policy and the tenor of City Council meetings. There is basic business the council must conduct, but we also hope the Republican majority uses council meetings as an opportunity to educate the public about conditions in the city. It shouldn’t be too much to ask that committee meetings be proactive about city issues rather than reactive and filled with routine items like special event applications or approval of training trips and bill payments.

What do we mean by proactive?

Public Safety Committee meetings should include a public discussion of crime and safety statistics, what police officers are seeing on the streets as they deal with drugs, poverty and the related issues that come along with them. Public Works Committee meetings can and should deal with discussions of neighborhood infrastructure issues while discussing publicly challenges and solutions to creating the type of infrastructure city residents deserve. City finance officials have done very good quarterly reports on the city’s budget over the years, but the council’s Finance Committee could certainly bring in municipal finance experts to discuss the city’s financial situation and debate possible solutions. Neighborhood Committee meetings should regularly discuss code enforcement statistics — both good and bad — and initiatives from other cities that may be useful in Jamestown. How can the council better partner with its non-profit partners? Perhaps more public discussion of those partners’ work needs to be part of the council’s agenda on a regular basis.

Political division doesn’t have to mean rancor and gridlock, however. Mayor-elect Eddie Sundquist, a Democrat, and Republicans on the City Council are going to approach city issues from differing perspectives, but we hope those perspectives combine to represent the voices of all city residents as each side compromises on programs and priorities.

We’re sure they will.

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