Recently on Facebook reading about a disagreement over whether a national chain restaurant was turned away from building a location within the City of Cedartown, I saw something that gave me real pause.
One particular reply to the original post stood out, wherein a local resident chimed in and called for support for “city employees are elected to assist in making our town better.”
I was a bit flabbergasted by what I read, and had to a second time to ensure that my eyes were reading it correctly.
“City employees are elected”? Surely not.
Yet I couldn’t deny the lines on the screen, or the fact that the author was making a good point. Don’t like it that a business isn’t here? Go out and take part in getting it.
I applaud the right sentiment, but bemoan the wrong facts. Probably because I run into this all the time with folks out in the community, where their information about a subject doesn’t quite match up with what the truth is.
So here’s my soapbox for the day: Commissioners and Council Members, and Mayors in Rockmart and Aragon are elected positions. Those who serve under them are hired just like any other job.
It can get confusing after all, hearing that a City Manager like Bill Fann or Jeff Ellis, or County Manager Matt Denton, are hired positions and not someone who can be kicked out of office every four years in November.
Voters have control over Cedartown City Commission seats held by folks like Andrew Carter and Dale Tuck running for office, or council members like Rick Stone or James Payne in Rockmart. These officials make a token paycheck, but voters decide who represent them on those boards. Mayors work the same way.
City officials like Fann or in the County like Denton were ultimately chosen by their respective commissions, but work like anyone else on a 40 hour clock per week, with health benefits and paid time off.
The biggest distinction is that while officials like Denton oversee county operations, they don’t have control over their own salaries or the budget for the municipal government as a whole. Commissions and councils have the final say in the budget.
So keep this in mind when working with city or county administrations in the future: they are hired folks, going to jobs day in and out just like you. Our elected officials are there to support them and communicate their ideas and policies, but it is up to employees to carry it out.
Note this too — the city and county officials who make these decisions will listen when voters come to lend in their ideas and help solve problems. They need all the help they can get, and that only happens if people come to take part in meetings where decisions are made.
See the News and Notes section on Page A2 of each week’s paper to learn about meeting dates, times and locations for local governments.