Our Opinion: Leadership needed in municipal government

News Tribune editorial

When a gap opens between government and the governed, leadership becomes essential.

A divide between Jefferson City officials and residents is apparent. A perception exists that government is not trustworthy, credible or transparent.

The challenge for our city’s elected leader, Mayor Eric Streumph, and City Council members is to bridge that gap.

They must do so by creating a vision, establishing priorities and working together to spend tax dollars wisely.

The wish list for Jefferson City is lengthy. It includes a conference center, riverfront park and multi-purpose building; it extends from new development to annexation to redevelopment and historic preservation; it includes roads and bridges, and curbs and gutters; it embraces police and fire protection.

The economy, however, reminds us these are tough times.

Voters who are feeling an economic pinch recently have rejected proposed new taxes, including a sales taxes proposal for an economic development initiative, Transformation, and the Fire Department.

One signal from voters is city government must get back to basics. It must establish essential government services — including infrastructure and public safety — as priorities.

Our city leaders must build consensus and forge compromises that will transform multiple, individual priorities into a strong, unified vision for our city.

Strategies must be developed to transform those priorities into realities.

As success builds upon success, city infrastructure will be restored, services will be enhanced and credibility will be rebuilt. Admittedly, this is easier said than done. Honest, candid discussion and vigorous, thorough debate will be necessary. And public input must be invited and included every step of the way. A formidable challenge faces our city leaders. They must meet it with leadership.

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