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Commission needs change of attitudes
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Forsyth County News
In just a few more days, two members of the current Forsyth County Commission will leave office and two new members will be sworn in to take their place.

The new board will have no shortages of challenges  — revenue shortfalls, job cuts, water rates, drought conditions, transportation needs, taxes and stalled commercial development are but a few of the major issues facing the county.

Before it proves it can deal with such substantive issues, members of the commission must first prove they can deal with each other.

In recent months, relationships among existing commissioners have deteriorated to the point that a lack of civility, unprofessional conduct and childish behavior have been the norm rather than the exception.

We can only hope the new year brings with it a renewed commitment to public service for those who are returning to the board, along with a sense of professional decorum for its newest members.

We do not believe county commissioners should agree on every issue. We do, however, believe they can debate and discuss important issues in a reasonable manner conducive to conducting the county’s business in the most efficient way possible.

It is unfortunate the board has so often found itself divided 3-2 on issues, and that the division of votes is obvious before debate ever begins. That such is the case reflects voting patterns that too often are based on voting “for” or “against” another specific commissioner rather than a contemplative examining of the issue at hand.

Much of the responsibility for forging a new attitude among the board will rest upon the shoulders of its chairman.

When the membership selects a chairman for the coming year, that person should assume what truly is a leadership role and rise above personal bickering to set the tone for the rest of the commission.

We would hope that not long into the tenure of new commissioners the county can hire a permanent county manager who is a proven administrator capable of bringing professionalism to a county government too often besieged by amateurish antics.

The Forsyth County government as a whole is solid and competent, with many dedicated and capable employees. It is the behavior of elected officials from whom they take direction that has so often overshadowed the competent efforts of professional staffers.

At the end of each election cycle we seem to make the same plaintive plea: Let this be the group of commissioners in which we can take pride not only because of their accomplishments, but also because of the manner in which they choose to conduct themselves while doing the public’s business.

Hopefully, 2009 is the year.