Normally The Ashland Chronicle would not respond to the work of another publication. We believe in journalism and the importance of all voices.
However, a recent opinion shared by a local publication put our city and mayor on full blast as a rudderless ship when we are seeking a city manager in the wake of a charter change. The timing is so poor as to appear a deliberate barrier to the will of the people.
While bashing politicians has replaced baseball as America’s pastime, and for many valid reasons, the recent offering on the opinion page of that other publication may have hit a foul ball with what reads more like a personal grudge than a fact based opinion.
So let’s add a few facts to our opinion for the sake of balance.
Changing to a new form of government is incredibly difficult for every city, though long term, vital. Most every transition of this kind takes roughly a year. Throwing rocks at those tasked with this challenge seems a bit like tripping a marathon runner on her first mile. Let’s allow the mayor to bring forth her plan to which she made reference at the last two council meetings and see if it finds traction. If so, let’s afford the city council the opportunity to enact the will of the voters. They’re aware it needs to be done. Mayor Akins asked the council to reconsider a recent delay vote and spelled out her reasons. It didn’t sway them yet, but if you watch politics as we do, we know things often take more than one pass.
Mayor Akins is attempting to wrangle an uncooperative and at times hostile council while getting the work done. She’s in a volunteer position she’s held for just under six months. Her predecessor served 12 years. Virtually no one from the inexperienced to the seasoned can accomplish greatness in six months. Local government is incredibly complex. We’ve culled through reams of city documents and it can take a team of experts months or years. She just arrived as mayor, let’s allow some realism to enter into the conversation before declaring her incapable.
And in fairness, Akins is getting some things accomplished. If we’re going to talk about her leadership, it’s only fair to mention accomplishments.
The Ashland City Council voted unanimously to adopt the Social Equity and Racial Justice Commission, which Mayor Akins thought of, negotiated and wrote. It took months of effort and leadership but she got it done in her first four months as mayor. While she was at it, she began a territorial acknowledgment of Native lands which garnered national positive attention. The former mayor promised to do it for a decade, but never did. Akins started it within her first thirty days.
Due to Akins leadership the community was informed of the staff plan on wildfires in a community town hall. Akins continues working with staff to get evacuation planning and fire safety in order for which she’s been holding staff and council accountable.
Mayor Akins remains a staunch advocate of responsible budgeting and broke the tie to send the out of whack and costly “studies” of The Community Center and Pioneer Hall back to the drawing board and she’s now created an ad hoc committee of volunteer experts to give us a better deal.
As to the recent council obstruction on getting a search moving forward on hiring a city manager—it’s not Akins who decries Ashland as a bad place to work nor is it Akins calling for delays and she’s not the reason the position remains vacant.
From what we see in the cheap seats, Mayor Akins is methodically attempting to do the will of the people despite the road blocks in her way and has not vilified anyone in the process, which we view as actual leadership. We’re waiting to hear the latest plan before deciding it’s not good. Pre-judgement isn’t journalism or even good sense in our opinion.
The mayor is doing her job ably and the people have tasked the Ashland City Council and staff to follow the leadership Akins is offering. Doesn’t the council and the city itself have real work to do rather than picking apart a brand new mayor who was fairly elected by the majority of voters in Ashland? If they feel she has more to learn, then for the sake of the city they should assist her rather than taking shots at her.
Finally, it’s our opinion the publication which once held the title of the newspaper of record should go back to reporting rather than using the power of the press to settle personal grudges. We believe Ashland deserves better than that.
The Ashland Chronicle Staff