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Leaders Can Take the Slings and Arrows

09.27.16 04:05 PM – Andy McDonald

There are some people in public life who have a knack for bringing out the best in their communities. They dream, they labor. Once in a while, they fall short, but when all is said and done, they leave a positive mark.

In today’s climate, it’s sometimes easy to forget the good things truly dedicated public servants can do.
We live in an era when you hear more about what’s wrong with local government than what’s right, and sometimes people get so focused on their need to vent that they can neglect the positive things happening in a given community. More importantly, they can even forget the role that local government played in making great things happen.

One case in point is a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, citing a survey in which Berea-Richmond, Kentucky was identified as the best place to work in manufacturing - in the United States. How can that be, you may ask? Because business is good, and the amount of available opportunities is outpacing the number of workers.

U.S. News: Berea-Richmond Best Place to Work in Manufacturing

It took the initiative of Madison County leaders to affect that kind of lasting change to our community. Berea Mayor Clifford Kerby took special pride in the role he played in bringing manufacturing jobs to Berea.

Under Mayor Connelly, the city has aggressively built upon that legacy and the industrial park has expanded considerably, as the city of Berea has upgraded infrastructure that serves the industrial park – roads, sidewalks, as well as providing available land for new opportunities.

In Richmond you had the initiative of two very strong female mayors, the late Ann Durham and Mayor Connie Lawson, both of whom were instrumental in bringing manufacturing jobs to that city. I suspect what sealed the deal in bringing at least one of Asahi Forge’s factories to town was Lawson’s boundless belief in the city of Richmond. Lawson’s enthusiasm about the future of Richmond was absolutely contagious, and when decision time came, Mr. Asahi just couldn’t turn her down. Lawson is a true believer, and her gift is that she can make you a believer, too.

Ann Durham, Connie Lawson, and Cliff Kerby had their share of detractors, but their common denominator, when it came to industrial development, was the ability to shake off the naysayers, to not quail in the face of doubt or uncertainty, and to never give up their can-do attitude.

Durham, Lawson and Kerby knew there are some people who feared change, but when the chips were down, and when the critics came out of the woodwork, they stood firm. Perhaps most importantly, they never lost their vision, and that is what made them leaders.

It’s often said that any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one. Whether you agree with their bodies of work as public servants, Ann Durham, Clifford Kerby and Connie Lawson were carpenters. So the question bears some consideration as voters choose their candidates this election season, and that goes for all levels of government: Will you choose a carpenter or jackass?

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