Times Editorial : A new day
Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2008
Despite taking months (years, really ) to get here, we finally found the finish line. With the completion of a handful of runoff elections last Tuesday, campaign 2008 at last came to a close.
Fittingly, perhaps, everyone in Fayetteville had to wait until Nov. 25 to learn about the year’s biggest bit of breaking news. Quite obviously, that would be the winner of the race to lead their city into the future over the course of the next four years. And that person is Alderman Lioneld Jordan. Correction. Make that Mayor-elect Lioneld Jordan.
It may not mean much coming from a newspaper that editorially endorsed his opponent, but Jordan deserves a hearty congratulations, and we offer it here. The outgoing Ward 4 alderman, his family and all his supporters worked hard to turn a second-place finish in the general election into a final victory against an incumbent mayor. Jordan’s 57. 3 percent of the vote (5, 796 votes ) easily bested Mayor Dan Coody, a two-term incumbent, who finished the night with 42. 7 percent (4, 319 votes ).
It’s clear that residents across Fayetteville were ready to make a change in 2008. That sentiment was in evidence during the general election, when a majority of votes went to Jordan, Steve Clark and Walt Eilers. Sure, Coody received 37 percent of that first tally — but surely his supporters feared a runoff, and that everyone who had already voted against Coody the first time around would not suddenly return to the fold just to keep Jordan out.
A big reason this newspaper’s editorial board backed Clark in the general election was that we felt Coody and Jordan both had been involved in unnecessarily contentious relations in city government. We wanted a truly fresh start with a candidate that didn’t carry any local baggage (although Clark’s past was clearly enough baggage to dissuade many voters from supporting him ). Among those three — the top three in the general election — the ideas for the future didn’t dramatically differ. Many folks made it clear they were as interested in kicking Coody out as they were in hiring a new mayor.
Now that the race is finally over, however, we hope that all the members of all the varied factions can take a deep breaths, put the past behind them, and do their very best to make a fresh start of things in 2009.
Coody’s supporters are no doubt disappointed in Tuesday’s results, and that’s natural. But the question of who leads Fayetteville isn’t so much about the “ who” as it is about the ideas the leader brings to the table, his abilities to lead others and the results he can produce. The mayor’s post today remains as it always has: a vehicle by which the brightest future for Fayetteville can be pursued and achieved.
Personality should never be THE factor that determines which candidate one should support. Because campaigns involve our collective future, they need to be about ideas and strategies toward achieving a desirable outcome for our community. One reason we disagreed with some of Coody’s opposition is that their perspective appeared to be influenced, if not determined, by their dislike of Coody personally, not by his results or the direction he’s taken Fayetteville under his leadership. Indeed, the ideas advanced by the victor in this race didn’t differ that strongly from the current administration; he pledged to pursue similar goals while stressing his promise to “ listen to the people” and offer “ experience you can trust. ”
The message was clearly one that the voters heard, and agreed with. And Lioneld Jordan will become mayor in January because he delivered it convincingly. And now, the election is over. The decision is made. And the next four years are about what Fayetteville’s citizens and leaders can achieve together regardless of which candidate one supported in the election.
Mayor-elect Jordan believes in Fayetteville as much as anyone we’ve met, and his motivation — pursuing the city’s best possible future — never came into question once during the campaign.
Come January, he’ll get busy charting the course to get to that goal.
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