EDITORIAL: Cooperation — a worthy New Year's resolution

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

At last, it appears the parties are coming to the table.

Looking ahead to 2013, leaders from the three local government entities — Lee County, the Town of Broadway, and the City of Sanford — listed cooperation among their top priorities in the coming year.

Broadway Mayor Donald Andrews spoke of finding common ground with the county, while his Sanford counterpart, Cornelia Olive, told The Herald she is not interested in an adversarial relationship.

Likewise, Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Parks expressed a desire for “positive communication,” adding, “I think we have something at stake here.”

How right he is, and consensus among these boards has been hard to come by of late. Accusations have flown, fingers have been pointed, and in the end, very little has been accomplished jointly.

Whatever the reason these boards have failed to sit down and sort out matters in the past, their working together is only becoming more imperative. Consistent concerns like economic growth warrant input from all affected parties — as do relatively new issues like hydraulic fracturing.

Granted, officials are charged with doing what is best for their own jurisdictions. But if the actions of one board could cause harm or hardship elsewhere, as with the debate over sales tax redistribution, then those decisions should be preceded by discussions.

Communication, coupled with an open mind, can solve all manner of problems.

Having said that, it is heartening to hear that some talking will be taking place among our county's policy makers. The commissioners will be meeting separately with its municipalities in meetings tentatively set for the first week of February.

Here's hoping that these huddles are productive, and that the individuals present remember that they are there to serve — not to keep score. The objective is not necessarily for everyone to walk away happy, but to leave informed — and feeling that their concerns and opinions were taken into consideration.

Compromise and cooperation are not weaknesses, but skills — which elected leaders at all levels would be wise to hone.