Over the past several days, the Courier sat down with each of the candidates for City Council. Among the candidates are some of the best people we've seen step forward in a very long time.
We'll endorse candidates for the general election. What we want to do right now is something a bit different. We want to let people know what we hope you're thinking about when you step into the voting booth to make your choice.
Ottumwa faces major challenges. If you've lived here for more than 10 minutes, you know that. Meeting those challenges and making our community more than it is today is going to be hard work. It will take tough decisions. It will take change, and it will not be free of pain.
We need professionalism on the council. That's not a comment on what a person does for a living; it's about how people handle themselves. Do they treat others with courtesy, even when they may disagree? Do they avoid wasting time and energy on personal attacks, choosing to focus instead on solutions for the issue at hand? Do they present themselves as the kind of people you want our community to be judged as having for leaders?
We need people who are open to new ideas. People who equate “new” and “bad” aren't going to move the community forward. Not every new idea is a good one, but we need people who are willing to analyze new approaches with an open mind and an eye toward progress.
We need diversity on the council. Diversity in age. Diversity in gender. A monolithic council isn't likely to generate the kind of thinking that can advance Ottumwa and meet the challenges we face.
We need to improve the face we show the world. Look around. Chances are there's an unkempt building nearby. We can do better. Our council can't be afraid of phone calls from irritated people who are told to clean up, whether it's their yard or a building downtown.
We're at a crossroads. We have a choice. We can move forward, but only if we have a council whose members are willing to make hard decisions and stand behind them.