AND away we go.
The first full week of the new year is barely halfway over and there is already a dispute in Farrell.
It seems new Mayor Kimberly Doss is concerned that former mayor Olive McKeithan’s appointment to the Farrell Council seat the new mayor vacated will cause strife in the city.
She is particularly upset by what she calls an “unprofessional” voice mail left on her cell phone.
Pause for a moment to let that sink in.
For those of you who don’t know, Doss has had many “unprofessional” moments as a city council member, some of which absolutely interfered with getting the business of the city accomplished.
But let’s set that piece of irony aside for the moment.
Doss won the mayor’s race fair and square. She is the city’s new leader.
McKeithan lost her bid to retain the job, but there is no reason she cannot serve on council as long as she respects the fact that she is no longer the city’s chief executive.
And that leads us to another point.
There are many who are worried about Doss’s fitness to serve as mayor. The jury is still out as to whether they have valid reasons for that fear.
But just to be clear, rubber-stamping the chief executive’s vision is not what anyone should want for Farrell — or any other city, township or county government.
The city council members have been elected by the residents of Farrell to keep an eye on what is happening with their city and their money.
The council is meant to question, responsibly, the proposed actions by the mayor and those who work with her. They are supposed to ask for more information about projects, expenditures and other decisions that affect the residents.
They are supposed to do so without agenda, personal interest or a grudge.
They are definitely not supposed to become a barrier to getting things done because they cannot respectfully or responsibly discuss an issue.
And that has been a problem on Farrell’s council in the past. In fact, it was a speed bump McKeithan and soon-to-be-former City Manager Mike Ceci dealt with a lot.
Just as in the federal government, the powers in a local government are dispersed among several bodies. And there are rules so that one doesn’t become too controlling.
That is now what Farrell residents have.
If Doss is truly out to create a city that is moving forward in a positive manner, and she is planning to be open to suggestions and concerns expressed by those who work with and for her, then she should welcome someone who has been there and done that to be part of that effort.
But the new mayor should be well-aware that this job is about the city’s interests — and that moves she makes, hires she pushes and changes she requires will be scrutinized.
That comes with the job. And it would be applied to anyone who sits in the mayor’s chair.
She should expect more comments, more questions and more calls for records, budget numbers and contracts — as should anyone who is in charge of a public body this year in Mercer County.
The Sunshine and Open Records laws are the public’s defense against those who take their government roles as anointments rather than appointments.
We will keep a sharp eye on their decisions, their discussions, their comments and the money they are spending. And you should, too.
This is a new year with lots of potential on the horizon for not just Farrell, but for the county as well.
Holding those who lead us accountable for the moves they make is not just something to occupy the staff at your local newspaper; it is a vital component to ensuring a future that is bright and prosperous for this community.
We promise, we are all in. We hope you are, too.
We will see if Farrell’s new mayor means what she says and does what she promises.