George Washington wrote in his farewell address on Sept 17, 1796, the following words:
“However political parties may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
Recently a small but vocal few have expressed their desire for the Paragould City Council to pick a political side and to pledge their allegiance to a party over their allegiance to our citizens. I thought I would take a short minute to talk about this issue and address it head on and hopefully enlighten our citizens on how and why our local governmental system works and how it benefits all citizens, regardless of political affiliation.
Just this year in the city of Paragould we have made great strides in improving the safety, the economic security, and the quality of life for all our citizens despite their political stance on divisive national issues. As we look around at the many good things that have happened and are still going on, I struggle to find a partisan issue in any of them.
For example, earlier this year when Anchor Packaging announced a nearly 22-million-dollar expansion along with an additional 45+ jobs, those jobs weren’t democrat or republican jobs, they were jobs for all our citizens. Our new trail system is currently under construction and when finished will benefit all citizens, democrat and republican alike. The addition of police cameras in our parks and the additional K9 officers that have been added to our police force, will serve to keep all citizens safe. Additionally, the newly announced Innovation Center and Farmers Market will be a center for all citizens to gather, and encourage entrepreneurship across all demographics, young and old, all socioeconomic levels, all races, and political leanings. The adage “There is not a democrat or republican way to fix a pothole” comes to mind.
The issues we face as a city and as a region are not for the benefit of the few but rather for the benefit of ALL. Look at the City Council in Paragould and you will see representatives from diverse walks of life, all working together to make sure the place they have chosen to work, live, play, and raise their families is the best it can be. The only way this can happen is if we all put partisan issues aside and find out what is best for the citizens of our city. In all honesty, as I look around at what this council has accomplished just this year without political bickering it makes me proud to have them representing us. It would be beneficial if the politicians at higher levels would take a lesson from our council and put party issues aside and put our citizens issues at the forefront. We as citizens of Paragould should consider ourselves lucky to have representatives who put politics aside and put us first!
As we look around our state and our national political landscape, we all must realize President Washington’s words have never been truer. We must come to the realization that we as a nation, as citizens of the U.S. and children of God, are so much more than just a vote. To simply define our values and our self-worth based solely on party affiliation is a disservice to ourselves and our nation. We deserve better for ourselves; our children deserve better role models than this idea and we should expect better examples, especially from those in leadership roles. We should always be hesitant of anyone who tries to divide and realize the best outcomes always come about when inclusion, rather than division happens. I feel as a nation President Washington’s dire warning has come to fruition and the only way for us to overcome this great divide both nationally and locally is to find common ground, work together for the good of all our citizens and most of all be more Christlike and love one another despite our so-called differences.
Lastly, I want every one of you to know I consider it an honor to be your mayor.
Josh Agee is Mayor of Paragould.