Mark of a leader

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One mark of a good elected official is the ability to face the voters and speak confidently and competently about issues facing the constituency he or she serves.

Accordingly, we commend the five Franklin City Council candidates who accepted this newspaper’s invitation to speak at public forums this week and answer questions from the voters. Mayoral candidates Jim Councill and James Riddick Sr. participated in a Tuesday night forum. Ward 6 council candidates Ray Smith and Jamie Brown have accepted invitations to speak at a similar forum Thursday night at the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center. Ward 3 candidate Greg McLemore also accepted our invitation for a forum in that ward.

Unfortunately, Ward 3 incumbent Councilwoman Rosa Lawrence declined, saying her opponent is “being messy” and that she will not appear at a forum with him. We’ll find out soon enough whether that’s a wise political strategy, but regardless, the big losers are the Ward 3 voters, who deserve the opportunity to size up the two candidates side by side and hear their views on the issues at a critical time in our city’s history.

Ward 6 candidate Don Blythe also declined our invitation, citing an unidentified out-of-town obligation Thursday night.

Voters can decide for themselves what to make of Lawrence’s and Blythe’s decisions, but hard questions should be asked.

Effective political leadership requires having the courage of one’s convictions and the willingness to articulate beliefs and policy positions to the people you seek to lead.