Last Thursday, at a special meeting of the City Council, our citizens witnessed the abuse of power and trust. The meeting was ostensibly held to discuss the possibility of the taxpayers backing bonds worth $18 million for RED Development. These were in addition to the previously approved $14 million. We were being asked to do something that I believe went against approved city policies and was a potential financial risk for our citizens.

Public service has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Having the ability to help a resident with a problem is what makes being a councilman worthwhile. Using the power of office for good and being a voice and advocate for the people is why I serve.

Last Thursday, at a special meeting of the City Council, our citizens witnessed the abuse of power and trust. The meeting was ostensibly held to discuss the possibility of the taxpayers backing bonds worth $18 million for RED Development. These were in addition to the previously approved $14 million. We were being asked to do something that I believe went against approved city policies and was a potential financial risk for our citizens.

Two days before the meeting, the council finally received the market study that gave us the data on which to base a decision on whether to support or to deny this request. After reviewing the information, I had serious concerns about the validity of the data and the lack of necessary details that I felt I needed to make an informed decision. The sales leakage numbers seemed to be overly inflated, and I was looking forward to having the ability to question the supporting document at the council meeting.

Unfortunately, as I was asking questions, a motion was make by Councilman Reed to stop all discussion and it was agreed upon by Councilmen Lauer, Shaver and Mayor Ross. At that point, all discussion and questions where shut down. A vote was taken, and only Councilman Fowler and I did not vote for approval of the bonds.

It was the most important vote I have made in my three years on the council and not a word from the public and few questions from this elected representative were permitted. When did silence take precedence over open dialogue in government? Intimidation and bullying tactics should never be used to silence the public or their elected officials. It was truly shameful.

Taking the oath of office is a sacred trust between those elected and the people they serve. On April 6 we will have citywide elections. I pray for our mayor and I pray that our future city councilmen do not break that trust again. We deserve transparency in our government and we should demand that the current people who are supposed to be serving us hear our voices.