Andrea Gardner’s sentiments were not intended as an applause line, but applause came nonetheless.
Gardner, the city manager in Cove, made a plea for community organizations and city and community leaders to work together during a discussion last week at a special city council meeting regarding the city’s relationship with outside entities: Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, Cove House, Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation and Veterans Helping Veterans-Star Group, among others.
“I feel like the best thing that all the entities could do is pull together and figure out how we can make this community better,” Gardner said, adding that no one wants to pour their “heart and soul into something” and then see it fall apart some day.
“And if we don’t come together and work together, that’s what’s going to happen,” she said.
She said “nitpicking” needs to stop, as does finger pointing. Accomplishments have occurred in the city because of people who have worked together, she said.
“We just need to say we need to agree that that’s going to stop and we’re going to move it forward,” she said, turning to Mayor Frank Seffrood and asking if she could get that consensus from the council.
Her request was met with applause.
On Tuesday night, former Cove council member Charlie Youngs seemed to echo that teamwork mantra at the city council meeting, when, during citizens forum, he lashed out at council members George Duncan and Matt Russell, whom he accused of engaging in a “food fight” regarding different entities in the community.
“It shows to me that several of our councilmen have lost vision, they don’t where we’re going, they have no idea what the city is doing and apparently they think (because) they’ve been here at least two years ... on the council, they’ve got the answer for everything,” he said.
This is not the first time I have covered a council in which certain members sparked discord or controversy.
I covered one council in which a member needed a tutorial on the basic functions of government. It was maddening at times watching this man make a spectacle of himself.
There were times in meetings in which he would complain or inquire about something, but the scene could have been avoided if he had just done his homework or simply placed a couple of calls to city officials.
He would demand answers from city staff without exhibiting any sign that he had done his due diligence.
The point is, no one should serve on a council with an agenda or for stealth purposes. And if an individual does run for office, he or she must avail himself or herself to learning about the job and governance. And they should show a sense of good will.
Yeah, I know, call me naive.
That is not to say that is necessarily happening here with the council or that I agree with Youngs’ assessment, but perceptions are being formed. For instance, on Tuesday, Council member Marty Smith said she is hearing from people that if the Economic Development Corporation continues to be a source of debate at council meetings, then its mere existence should be under question. And last week, there was a testy exchange between Russell and EDC board member Jack Smith during the joint council/EDC board meeting about the transparency of the EDC.
All of this said, I make no opinions on the worthiness of the arguments for and against matters that have been brought up at council meetings. Reasonable people can disagree about policies and concepts and even the fine print.
But it does seem prudent to heed words that conciliation matters, no matter where one stands on issues, if you serve the public interest.
DON MUNSCH is the editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.