It seems almost certain that Berryville's Tim McKinney will run for another term as mayor. As you may know, I am in favor of that and for the same reason McKinney gives: the next four years are going to be tough ones and it is a poor time to bring in inexperienced leadership. On balance I also think McKinney has been a good mayor and, consequently, I intend to vote for him.
That said, isn't it really too bad that there is such a leadership vacuum in Berryville, and in Carroll County generally? So far, only one person has approached me for a signature that--along with 29 other signatures--will allow him to throw his hat in the ring for mayor. I gladly signed his petition because I believe that effective democracy is part horse race, but I was less than impressed with his reasons for running: "I don't drink and I don't do drugs," he said.
That's a deficient platform. Any dead person in the Berryville cemetery can make that claim. So can Sophie, my Jack Russell Terrier. But I'm not going to vote for her until she can articulate why our brand new City Plan is such a pathetic farce...and can tell me what she's going to do about it.
More to the point, McKinney has Important Papers from an Important Court of Law that says he's not a drug user. Thus, he can say, along with any other candidate but with more authority, "I don't drink and I don't do drugs." Of course, that's the Earl Long defense. When Gov. Long got out of the Louisiana State Insane Asylum, he proudly waived his discharge papers and refused to resign from office: "I got papers says I'm not crazy! You got papers?"
So: Tim McKinney has papers that say he's clean and sober, and we can believe that he's clean and sober. We can also believe he's been an effective mayor because we can see that Berryville's departments and systems work well. He deserves another term for both reasons.
But let's hope it's going to be his last. McKinney has been mayor since 1991 which, along with Fidel Castro and Little Dick in Chicago, makes him one of the longest serving public officials in the Universe (as, of course, we know it). For much of the past 20 years, there has been little debate about the how and why of Berryville's operations, or about its plans for the future. That isn't McKinney's fault: for democracy to work it needs at least a few bad old boys willing to give the good old boys a run for our money. But where, oh where, are the bad old boys?
For the simple sake of democracy, let's hope that a few prospective leaders begin to emerge soon. Personally, I don't care if they take a drink now and then.