Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: July 11

Thumbs Up

Guthrie visits Boyle County

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie should be commended for doing a lot of listening last week when he visited Boyle County.

Friday morning, Guthrie — a conservative Republican — spent 90 minutes with local Democrats and progressives who had requested a meeting, and another 90 minutes with anyone who wanted to show up.

This step of listening to constituents is an essential step in democracy that often gets overlooked. We all focus on elections and we often seem to believe once an election is over, everything is set in stone.

That simply isn’t the case, and it’s certainly not how the U.S. government was built to operate. Once a Republican or Democrat is elected, they are not — or should not be — just a red or blue checkmark next to their party’s agenda.

The ballot box is not a verdict; it is a jury selection tool.

Elected officials have a duty to hear the viewpoints of their constituents, including those who disagree with them passionately. Only then can they say they are doing their job appropriately and upholding our democratic traditions.

One constituent at Guthrie’s “office hours” event Friday complained that legislation coming out of Washington, D.C., seems to only ever be hyper-partisan anymore. Bills from the side of the aisle in power ignore concerns from the minority; and when the roles switch, the same thing happens in reverse. The commenter pined for the days when the majority listened to the minority’s criticisms and used them to build better laws that improved the country.

Perhaps we could see more of that kind of unifying, positive behavior again — if more elected officials would take the time to listen.

Thumbs Up

Bary, Followell retiring

Congratulations to Perryville City Clerk Mona Followell, who will retire at the end of August, and P&Z Director Paula Bary, who will retire at the end of this month.

Followell has been city clerk for Perryville since 1990 — a 27-year stretch of highly transformational years in terms of technology and culture.

It’s an admirable achievement not just because that’s a long time to work in any one job, but because city clerks are often the oil that keeps small cities running without breaking down.

Bary has overseen planning and zoning in Boyle County for a similarly lengthy 23-year stretch.

P&Z is set to “lose” — though Bary will still be around — two decades of knowledge about how Danville, Perryville and Boyle County: how zones are set up, when zones were changed, why rules about development are the way they are…

It’s a tough job that doesn’t come with much glamor or thanks, and it can require you to tell people things they don’t want to hear. Nonetheless, Bary has many supporters who are sad to see her go. We think that speaks to the quality of the work she did.

We hope Bary and Followell will have enjoyable retirements.