I think most of us, at the end of the day, simply hope that we can make an impact in our sphere of influence. That we can do the most good for the most people whenever we’re given the opportunity. And, quite frankly, those opportunities don’t always come around very often.
So tell me, Mayor Meek, why you sit on the board of directors for Unbound, an anti-human trafficking organization, and serve as the mayor of Waco, and could not vote against the incentive package to Mars Wrigley chocolate, a company which plays an egregious role in child trafficking worldwide? Most people in your position would jump at the chance to make a difference with that vote.
Was it a choke? Or did you feel because you were not the deciding vote you were just better off appeasing the business community? Both your “yeses” and your “noes” matter, and last night your “yes” vote said a lot more than you think it did. It showed exactly where your priorities are.
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Also, it’s worth mentioning that I am married to a West African. We both went to Baylor. We both lived and voted in Waco. We spent money and paid rent in Waco. We paid Waco taxes. For those council members who argued that injustice in the Ivory Coast has nothing to do with Waco — it’s laughable and impertinent and asinine.
To many, the consensus governing style on Waco City Council is preferable to the increasingly frustrating partisan process. Rather than injecting the political process with labels and ideology, many council members and their proponents would argue that our local government is one of ideas and common ground. They believe that continuity and order is preferable to questioning the prevailing narrative of how Waco has been run for years. For anyone to publicly dissent from any one policy is to dissent from the process, and, by extension, those who defend it.
Though there are many defenders of this practice, they have not stopped Councilwoman Kelly Palmer from bravely recording her dissent and being the lone “no” on what would have been otherwise unanimous decisions. Kelly has demonstrated her ability to provide unique perspectives, while also offering a clear alternative of how Waco could be better than it is. She does not simply register her displeasure, but offers a better solution. She prefers to elevate these issues in public, rather than let them play out in private chambers.
When we choose people to serve in elected office, we ask them to be independent voices speaking on behalf of their uniquely situated constituents. We expect them to take a stand when they see something they think is wrong, and to have the wherewithal to question the status quo. When our elected officials do not meet these expectations, and they fail to seek alternative perspectives, while maybe even suppressing their own, then they run the risk of hurting the people they are elected to serve.
There is much to say about what is wrong with partisan politics, but at least we understand where those politicians stand on the issues and that they will proudly fight to defend their positions.
Peter Mungiguerra, Waco