8/7/2014 2:53:00 PM Letters: I'll take Clarkdale's
political style any day
In it's 7/11 "Political apathy certainly not a problem in Jerome" editorial, the Verde Independent seems to be trying to compare kiwis, oranges, and grapes. From a newcomer's point of view, the towns in the Verde Valley all have their own, very distinctive styles.
Jerome seems more like a colony. Although there are as many factions as you'd find in a large, extended family, most of the citizens are personally and professionally involved in the business of keeping Jerome viable.
With that common goal universally held and understood, disputes can be resolved without damage to the town, itself. So it's O.K. for a hotel owner to tear into the Fire Chief when shoved. It's O.K. for a councilmember to sue Jerome over a zoning ordinance. It's O.K. for the New Guard and the Old Guard to hurl imprecations at will. Open, contentious wrangling among acquaintances is an integral part of that community's culture.
Clarkdale seems like a cross between a college and the company town it once was: a class-neutral fief with democratic trappings. A small core of civically committed individuals runs the town. A larger circle of dedicated volunteers support their administration, and the rest pitch in when need, time, and interest coincide.
In this structure, it's vital that members of the inner-core work well together and that other members of the community are kept informed of what they're working on. Citizen suggestions, requests, and complaints are generally handled one-on-one during regular business hours or at civic social functions.
Only when an official falls out of sync and keeps the trains from running on time or upsets the support groups is he/she replaced (gently, after much consideration). Clarkdale's political imperatives are courtesy, harmony, and continuity.
Cottonwood seems to be an archetypical municipality. Composed of many distinct demographic groups, some that interact on a regular basis, some that don't, it's dominated by business interests -- some at odds with each other, some at odds with city hall.
Public officials' main job is to keep all these disparate elements functioning in tandem and to ensure that one group doesn't exploit the others. I see a yearning for Clarkdale's walk-over-and-quietly-discuss-it on the part of some city officials. But like most cities, Cottonwood's politics is conducted among influence groups, in executive session. Those who enjoy wrangling join the group that represents their interests. The rest go about their business and yell only after they become aware something bit them.
I prefer Clarkdale's style.
Obviously, someone at the Verde Independent prefers Jerome's.
Which is fine, as long as this someone doesn't use his bully pulpit to guilt-trip citizens of Clarkdale and Cottonwood into upending the type of government they prefer.
Jerome, Clarkdale, and Cottonwood are equally functional, equally dysfunctional, and equally constitutional.
"Apolitical" and "apathetic" are not synonymous.
And contested elections are not always the cure for apathy, which (politically) is usually caused by bureaucratic excesses against which citizens have no recourse.