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Let's make office-holders accountable to the people

First today, a little soap-boxing.

It isn't difficult to figure out that those county and local governments that truly represent the will of the people they serve tend to operate more smoothly than those whose chosen leaders seek out the desires of only a small handful of individuals -- sometimes even just one.

Certainly it's true that not every county or municipal government official will always be able to please each of his or her constituents -- not even in the best-run county, city or town. But you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll see more success in, for example, cities where council people are able to agree on matters that come before them than in other places where there is constant bickering and squabbling over even the smallest of differences among the leaders.

The explanation should be so simple that I won't insult the intelligence of any reader by trying to expound on it.

It is disgusting to realize that there are some individuals elected by the people to represent them who, instead, constantly call upon one or ones who are "outsiders" to instruct them how to vote. What a cop-out! How spineless! Or are these leaders of small government bodies already bought and paid for by the outsiders?

Let me say that this does not happen in every county or municipality. But the prevalence of that kind of "leadership" seems to be reaching astounding proportions. Clearly, the divisions ultimately result from those select few outside groups and individuals who don't care one scintilla what is best for anyone other than themselves.

True, there should be a system of checks and balances in every government entity. But elected leaders should have the maturity and responsibility to handle any differences like adults.

I don't want to sound naive, but really, it gets right down to the nitty-gritty: How much longer is the ever-silent majority going to stand for such shenanigans? People are not sheep that follow one another, even if it's over a cliff. God gave us minds, so we should use them.

Because county and local governments -- like federal and state governments -- are run of ... by ... and for the people, that is where the direction should emanate, not from a few greedy persons or interests. The vast minority know they're able to brow-beat the vast majority with subtle persuasions and threats.

I still think there is strength in numbers. But those numbers must have the courage of their convictions. Will we be people ... or sheep?

n n n

It has been a number of years since I visited Oglebay Park near Wheeling, and I'd forgotten how beautiful an area it is. I had thought it was a state park, but it is not. It is operated by the Wheeling Parks Commission.

At any rate, I thought it was a great setting for the annual West Virginia Press Association this past week. I applaud the efforts of the WVPA and I thank Clarksburg Publishing Company for the opportunity to take part in the convention.

Exponent Telegram Editor Bob Stealey can be reached at (304) 626-1438.

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