By Greg Wilson
Editor/Publisher, Anderson Observer
Mention Anderson County Council tomorrow at work or at lunch with friends and you will likely be met with a roll of the eyes or smirk, sometimes accompanied by the shaking of a head. The past year or so has been one of constant turmoil, no doubt.
The tumultuous departure of a long-time administrator and an election changed many of the faces who now lead county government.
Such change generally offers opportunities to surge forward, to aggressively plan and take action on those things which will help the county shake off the dust of controversy which seems to still hang in the air, even as 2009 races toward fall.
There have been some bright spots. The hiring of Rusty Burns, a long-time Anderson leader with a solid grasp of the issues, as interim county administrator was a good call. Those of us who have known him, believe that he has a tremendous amount to offer in that position and we hold out hopes he might be offered - and actually consider accepting - the position full time. He is in the perfect position of being local, being eminently qualified and not really needing the job. Can you say ideal public servant?
But there is a central philosophical concept which needs to be addressed for even a strong leader to take Anderson County forward. Somehow, some way, Anderson County's elected officials have got to find a way to leave the past behind. The obsession with putting a microscope on what has gone on in recent years needs to end. The proposal approving more funds to pay investigators will hopefully be among the last of its kind.
It is time to take the spotlight off of whatever has gone before, good or bad, to let go of whatever emotional hangover that is left and move on.
The leadership is in place. We have a largely experienced council, none of whom are reticent to express their positions, which can be a good and healthy thing. Each of these men and women bring something to the table, and were elected by folks who believe they can provide leadership the county needs. The time has come for each county council to remember this charge. Leaders lead.
It is not really that things are bad, at least yet. Despite the catcalls of critics, Anderson County is not a laughingstock, it is a place many of the other counties in the state visit to see how we do things here because we do them well. No reason to believe this will not continue. Many of those on council have visions and ideas which would accomplish this goal.
Since the passage of Home Rule in 1975, Anderson County government - even with its bumps in the road - has progressed far beyond many of the other counties in the state because we seemed to have elected passionate leaders.
The current council is no exception. Love them or hate them, you have to admit they are a passionate bunch. But the time has come to refocus that passion on innovative and forward-thinking leadership and finally let go of the past. Maybe before the leaves change.