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Our thoughts: Historic vote needs to mean something
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Members of the community gathered together to support our county’s elected officials prior to the beginning of Monday’s state legislative session, hearing the theme of leadership during an annual legislative prayer breakfast Friday.

Keynote speaker John Addison, a former CEO of Primerica, spoke of what makes a good leader. His insight was that a good leader is, first, a good person.

“The No. 1 job of as a leader is to be a uniter not a divider,” he said.

That message was fitting Friday. It came one day after a historic night at the Newton County Historic Courthouse, which saw a new form of government approved by the board of commissioners and a vote of no confidence in county chair Keith Ellis.

Such a motion has never been made by members of the Newton County board to anyone’s knowledge. That makes it a big deal.

Also making it a big deal is the fact that it came just seven days into the new year. A new year promised positive things for the county. We are set to have a new county manager, a new form of government that was carefully vetted and formed into a new charter, action towards solving our solid waste problem and new businesses ready to open across the county.

However, the first county meeting of the year brought public displays of discontent, including a commissioner threatening the county chair. Then two days later, the feeling of mistrust and discontent that some citizens have expressed was laid out on the table and put into the official record of Newton County by its board members – a vote of no confidence.

That vote does nothing official or concrete. It’s simply a public statement that the board has little faith in its leader. But due to its nature as an unprecedented action it is a loud and dramatic statement.

2015 was filled with distractions. A commissioner was accused of being a racist, 11Alive tried to make a mockery of county business, two county managers left, and the solid waste management continued to be a problem – this is just to name a few.

The people don’t deserve these headaches. They don’t deserve to have their elected officials focusing on these headaches instead of ways to make where they live, work and raise their children a better place.

Addison told a group of community members at the Turner Lake Recreation Complex Friday, that good leaders are gardeners. They should weed their brains every day, because negative seeds grow much more quickly than positive ones. Thomas Jefferson said he planted seeds not for himself but for those to come.

Commissioners, let Thursday’s actions be the first pass at weeding that sets the tone for a bountiful year.

The weeds have been tended to, don’t let more grow on your watch. Because make no mistake, those weeds will try to come back. Let the statement of the no confidence vote be loud, clear and final. We implore all elected officials, no more political retribution, public humiliation or distractions.


It is a new year, so let’s make it a positive one.

We are even willing to do our elected officials a favor. Let’s count the first seven days of 2016 as 2015 (although not on our taxes, of course). Now we have clear ground for our officials to cultivate a bountiful year that is good for the citizens they represent.