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Paul Osborne's



Experience In Local Public Office Is Helpful In Analyzing Candidates, Campaigns       

One of our readers asked me a few days ago if I started looking at political candidates and campaigns differently than I did before I served as mayor of Decatur.
    Yes.  There’s no doubt about it, although I had covered local campaigns for many years before I was in public office.
    As a newspaper editor, there is no way to get a better understanding of how a public office, such as mayor, operates than to serve in that office.
    No one has ever questioned why I sometimes insert that background into this column, but I only do it to show that, when I write something about the mayor’s position, or the city council, it’s not only coming from the editor of this newspaper who has covered the council for decades, but from someone who, for years, presided over that public body.
    So, when I write about closed meetings, the various responsibilities of the mayor, city council and city manager, right or wrong, it comes from chairing all of those public and private meetings and working with two city managers -- Steve Garman for about all of my years in office and interim city manager John Smith.
    Almost instinctively, when something comes up in the news about city government, I react as an editor, but also as a former mayor who served on the other side of the city council news.
    I think that’s why, in campaigns for mayor or city council (and other elected bodies, like school board), I often put myself in the position I once held and ask myself, “What would I have done if I was mayor at the time that happened?”, or “How would I have voted on that issue?”, or “What did I learn, or do, when I was confronted with a similar decision?”
    Also, when I read the “when you elect me I will...” comments from various candidates during a campaign, I immediately think about what the person can and cannot do, if he or she is elected mayor, or councilperson. 
    The reason that I’m writing on this subject to start this column today is that we have five editions of the print Decatur Tribune left before the Consolidated Election on April 4th.
    The content of some entries in this column during those weeks in March will be how I view the candidates for mayor and city council, based on their comments about the offices and the practicality, legality, common sense of their platform planks and knowing most of them for many years.             For what it’s worth I will endorse a candidate for mayor and three candidates to fill the expiring seats on the city council on that criteria.
    An important part of those choices will come from my experience as mayor -- and also what kind of council members I felt were effective.
    You have been warned. (smile)

 •  EARLY VOTING -- Early voting for the April 4th Consolidated Election starts tomorrow (Thursday, Feb. 23) at the Macon County Office Building, 141 S. Main St., Room 119, in Decatur. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
    Early voting is also available on Friday, Feb. 24th of this week and it continues through upcoming weeks although some days and hours are added as we move closer to the election.
    Here’s the schedule:
    February 27 – March 3
    8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    March 6 - 10
    8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    March 13-17
    8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    March 20-24
    8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Sat / Sun March 25-26
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    March 27 – 31
    8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Sat / Sun April 1-2
    9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    April 3
    8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.     

     If you need any more election information, contact Macon County Clerk Steve Bean at sbean@ or call (217) 424-1305 or (217) 424-1307.

• YARD SIGNS and other outdoor political advertising are starting to appear at various places around the city as several offices are up for election in the April 4th Consolidated Election.  One really great advantage for candidates this year is the warm weather we’ve had for several days during February.
    Trying to get political signs stuck in the frozen ground is usually the rule in local campaigns, but this year, at least so far, has been different.
    It’s also been great (especially last weekend) for going door-to-door and asking local residents for their vote on election day.

 • GOOD WORK -- Kudos to the city council which recently approved a “citywide reorganization that will flatten the organization, lead to additional efficiencies and is anticipated to save city taxpayers in excess of $300,000 annually.”
    City Manager Tim Gleason’s plan the council approved, “creates a work environment that allows employees to operate most effectively and continue to provide critical public services to the community without layoffs, although authorized staffing will be reduced by three positions through attrition.”
    There’s a lot to like about the plan which adds a lot more efficiency to the staff and eliminates two assistant city manager positions and creates a deputy city manager position.
    When the city manager can create greater effiency in city government, plus save $300,000 in the process, it should bring a positive response from the council and the public.
    Gleason got the positive vote and a proverbial pat on the back from those who understood what happened.
    Great move...and sound vote in response. 

Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY or visit our website at and find us on Facebook.

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