If a man is known by the company he keeps, that alone would be enough to propel Steve Brown into the Columbia County Commission District 1 post. Brown has received significant support among the communitys movers, shakers and king-makers.
Much of that support is because Brown isnt Frank Spears, a man who often rubs people the wrong way. Thorny personalities aside, this race offers a difficult choice between two fine candidates, both of whom are sincere public servants with commendable records of service.
However, just as voters must choose Tuesday, so must we endorse one candidate.
We choose Frank Spears.
It has long been this newspapers policy that incumbents who provide the service they promise to voters should be reelected, and politicians who fail in that regard should be removed. Since receiving this newspapers recommendation four years ago, Spears has met and exceeded the obligations of office. He deserves re-election.
Unlike some politicians who prefer to work behind closed doors, Spears has been fearless in keeping the publics business out in public. As a result, Spears is often accused of shamelessly seeking the spotlight. The charge has some validity, especially in the early stages of his political career when Spears favor-ed a lone-wolf approach to issues.
As annoying as the routine was to camera-shy fellow officials, it worked. Spears pushed through an ordinance keeping seedy massage parlors out of Columbia County, and fought to restrict video poker long before the state banned the machines.
Spears has since tried to work more in concert with fellow commissioners, even as he has fulfilled a campaign promise to stay in touch with constituents. County Commission Chairman candidate Ron Cross plans community-level meetings to solicit views from citizens; Spears has already conducted such forums for four years.
Those meetings have taught Spears the value of consensus. He was instrumental in forming a committee to fine-tune the Evans Town Center plan, and in appointing a committee to work out details of a badly needed tree ordinance.
Along the way, Spears treads where other commissioners havent. He studied every stage of the new courthouse construction, sounding an early warning as expenses rose. And Spears has been a watchdog of the Chamber of Commerce.
Candidates who arent willing to take a strong stand and brave the fallout for unpopular decisions should find a different line of work. Spears is always willing to take a stand and to defend it without flinching, challenging citizens and other public officials to likewise fight for their ideas.
Frank Spears has the forthrightness and the experience to continue guiding Columbia County forward as it initiates a new structure for the County Commission.
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