Over two years ago, when I first announced my desire to be your mayor, I faced a smear campaign, full of lies and mistruths, meant to damage my reputation and derail my chances of being elected before my campaign ever got off the ground. My response was immediate. I condemned those tactics, set the record straight, and continued on my positive course.
Today, I continue on that positive course – it’s the only way I know. And I continue to condemn the politics of division.
If there is one thing needed in our world today it is unity, not division. So imagine my disappointment when, at our recent meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the politics of division again reared its ugly head.
Ever since taking office, it has been a mystery to me why every discussion of our plans for improvement to our city parks and programs for our youth invites controversy from some of our elected officials. This has happened time after time: when planning for our bond issue, renovation of our buildings, bathrooms and playgrounds, when hiring a full-time Director of Parks and Recreation, and even when recognizing outstanding young people taking time from their Saturday to make improvements at a city park.
All I can surmise is that division and obstruction to progress continue to be the goal of some, even if it means derailing programs for our children. It also has become very clear that there are some in our community who would be content to see failure and decline in Natchez, as long as it meets some political or other twisted objective.
So, as I am prone to do, I am calling them out. It is time for bickering and grandstanding to stop. It is time for badgering city employees who are doing phenomenal things for our youth to stop. And it is time to stop worrying about who gets the credit for anything, as long as good things are happening and the work of moving Natchez forward is getting done.
Tuesday, we approved an ambitious plan to renovate the Youth Center at North Natchez Park, and we are going to get it done. Period. We also affirmed that the restoration of bathrooms at all city parks, already in progress and voted on unanimously at a prior meeting, will continue, and we are going to get it done. Period.
This is not a time for confusing the public with words meant to incite hate and division – all for political objectives. Rather it is a time to celebrate how far we have come as One Natchez, Working Together. Decrepit park facilities, dangerous playgrounds, and deplorable bathrooms are soon to be a thing of the past. Our children will know by our actions, and not by our words, that they have value.
The politics of division has scarred the public discourse of this nation. It’s time for our community to be an example – and understand that we can move forward better and faster if we are all rowing together.
I see an incredibly bright future for the City of Natchez – a future where all our citizens can enjoy the wonderful advancements we can make if we all work together. All I can do is answer with action. And our actions prove that we are getting the job done. Period. Because at the end of the day, Natchez Deserves More.
Dan Gibson is the mayor of Natchez.