John F. Kennedy said in January of 1961 at his inaugural address, “All of this will not be finished in the first one hundred days, nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” What, exactly, is it that we are to begin? I think it’s safe to say that Mayor Ronnie’s goal is to make Athens the best city in Alabama, and maybe the whole country.
Is that lofty? Of course, but would you want your city leadership to be one that was willing to just coast? Rick Baker, author of The Seamless City, made the determination of which I spoke above; that is, to be the best city possible. Mayor Baker does not pull any punches when it comes to the tough decisions that have to be made in order to be a “lean, mean, super-city machine.” In his chapter entitled “Managing the Government,” he says the following: “While the mayor’s office is a political position, departments like parks, water, police, sanitation, and others should be led by experienced, committed professionals. Executing a strategic plan and improving government operations,…demand that senior management understand and are committed to the mission, and are capable of carrying it out.”
Ok, that may be what is necessary for the actual government of a city, but what about the citizens they serve? We can have the best city government that there is, but what’s the point if we don’t do our part, if we don’t match excellent city government by being “super citizens”? Being a super citizen doesn’t mean that you have to be well known or the recipient of any awards. Rather, it means having the same kind of commitment to do all you can in your own way to make Athens the best there is.
Thankfully our city is full of unsung “super citizens” and “superheroes,” and very soon they are going to have their day in the sun. The month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and on September 13th Big Spring Memorial Park is going to be full of superheroes, literally. Everyone from Spiderman to Wonder Woman will be there to cheer on the children who are in the fight of their life, the fight against cancer. They will be there with their parents, some of whom will be in superhero costumes.
Mayor Ronnie told me about how hard it was when his grandson Quentin had to have surgery down at UAB. Quentin was there for three days, and while they were there, Ronnie met a woman who had spent 61 straight days at the hospital with one of her children. “I can’t imagine what that would be like,” he said. “Me neither,” I said. “We’ve got to fight for these guys until we find a cure,” he said. “Yes, we do, I replied. And then we prayed.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner