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Our Opinion: Think about the public

April 22, 2002

Many cities in the Imperial Valley are going through the process or have gone through the process of selecting new mayors and seating new council members.

Being mayor in most Imperial Valley cities is in many ways a ceremonial position, in that the mayor has no more authority than any other council member. The mayor's vote carries the same weight as the rest of the council members.

That is not to say the mayor's position does not have importance. The mayor sets the tone for the council and in many ways is the voice of the council for the public during the year he or she heads the council. That in itself is a form of power and mayors have to use that authority properly. One way to do that is to make sure the public has a voice, particularly during meetings. The more a council can make sure the people it serves are involved in the city processes, the better leadership that council will show.

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We call upon new local mayors to work together; more so now than ever before. This is an important time for the Imperial Valley. We have just seen our unemployment rate drop from the highest in the state down to just over 13 percent — the lowest it's been in a long time. To continue that trend cities must work together on economic development.

Yes, cities must consider their individual needs, but they must act as a region on key issues such as trying to attract a cargo airport to the Valley. Mayors can help focus the council and their cities on the idea of economic development internally and regionally and not shoot down good prospects for other area cities out of provincialism or jealousy.

A lot of growth may come to the Valley in the next year and cities have to be ready for it, pursue it and work together to make sure no one is left behind. There is a lot of promise on the horizon and those in authority have the power to make sure that promise is realized.

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