The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 17, 2013

Your View: Bold leadership needed

Editor’s note: The following letter was written and sent to members of the Joplin City Council. The author has edited it for use in The Joplin Globe.

By Sallie Beard
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — Dear City Council Members,

Let me first thank you for your service to our community. Regardless of whether we agree on all the issues, you are to be commended for your willingness to serve the people of Joplin. There is no doubt you have had to make sacrifices on our behalf. Thank you.

Thanks to the “forward thinking” of our community leaders, Joplin was prepared to respond to the disaster of May 22, 2011, in a way that set us apart from all other disasters.

Our leadership and our sense of community have been well-documented and heralded over the past two years. However, it appears that there is a departure from that feeling of cooperation and working for the “community good” within the ranks of the City Council.

I concur with the issues raised in the Globe editorial of June 2, 2013. It now seems that our leaders are caught up in “turf wars” rather than addressing issues on a case-by-case basis. Our council, it appears, has adopted the mentality of our national legislature by first asking to which side of the aisle do you belong?

The citizens of Joplin deserve better.

I am very proud to be a citizen of Joplin and prouder still of the way we have shown the world that Mayor Mike Woolston was right when he said, “no F-5 tornado is going to kick our ass.”

There is still much to be done to ensure Joplin’s recovery is full and complete. We can continue to raise the bar and serve as an example to other communities touched by disasters, but this cannot happen with a divided council. It is time to set aside personal agendas and differences.

There remain many issues ahead of us in our recovery — a recovery that is still in its infancy. The citizens of Joplin need your leadership. Perhaps the recycling issue before us now is an opportunity for you to collectively move our community forward in a direction that will benefit future generations. I would encourage the council to enact recycling and avoid placing it on the ballot. Both the Young Professionals Network survey and feedback collected by the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team reflect overwhelming support for this initiative.

Our city’s remarkable ability to respond to the tornado was no accident. It was a result of bold and insightful leadership. Now, as the rawness of the disaster of May 22 is thankfully beginning to wane, our leaders cannot afford to wane but must stay the course for a strong recovery. The citizens of Joplin are counting on you, our city council, for that continued bold and insightful thinking.

Sallie Beard