Changes are Coming

editorial-logo3As weeks go, this week has had quite an impact on politics in Jefferson County. As many know, Jefferson County Mayor Palmieri announced Friday that he would not be running for reelection in 2018, at least for the Mayor’s office. While the response has been mixed, depending on which side of the Palmieri fence you reside, most will admit that the door is now open for another candidate to walk through. Already announcing for the mayoral race are Mark Potts and Mike Dockery, with Potts running as a republican in May and Dockery as an independent. It will be interesting to see the fallout of Mayor Palmieri’s declaration that he will not be submitting the petition that was picked up in his name a few weeks ago.

Since that petition was picked up, there have been speculations and pondering as to what the current Mayor’s intent was, and the speculations and pondering ran the gambit. For his part, and I must say in what I have come to recognize as true Palmieri fashion, Palmieri let the rumors roll, sometimes feeding the frenzy with yes and no responses. Oh, he was open enough about being on the fence about another run, but very few enjoy the strategy of politics like Palmieri does and, if this is to be his final year of service to Jefferson County, then I would say that he earned the right to make the decision and announcement on his terms.

Over the years, I have covered the Mayor’s office for many stories. And, depending on the article, the political pundits have called me everything from the Palmieri Post to a political hater. Actually, it has always been the office that was in the spotlight, and it will continue to be in the spotlight no matter who is sitting behind the big desk. Politics being what they are locally and nationally, it is impossible for some to conceive of a relationship between a government office and the press that is not built on antagonism. As with most elected officials, I personally have agreed and disagreed with stances that Palmieri has taken over the years, and I know that I have made him mad enough to spit on a few occasions. But I have said this many times over the years and will say it once again: I have never requested information from the Mayor’s office that was not immediately handed over, no matter what shadow that information cast. That being said, I also know that no one likes a good game of cat and mouse quite like Mayor Palmieri, particularly if he gets to be the cat.

So, like him or oppose him, Alan Palmieri’s decision to not seek a fourth term as Mayor of Jefferson County will be a catalyst for change in a time when continuity is harder to find than the elusive Bigfoot. This year, the Director of Schools will change, and several elected offices have the potential for change, including the office of Sheriff of Jefferson County, as well as many seats on the County Commission. Now we know for sure that a new mayor will be at the helm of Jefferson County. That is a whole lot of newbies in one calendar year. Can we ride the waves of change? Well, sure. We have done it to some extent before, but I can’t recall the last time that the big three were up for grabs at the same time. Sheriff, Director of Schools, and County Mayor are all seriously impacting positions on both policy and function. We now know that two of the three will certainly see new faces. If you don’t believe that you will see any difference in your daily life from these changes, then you simply aren’t paying attention.

What is the takeaway from all of this? Palmieri may be out of the running, but I would not count him out of the picture just yet. Career politicians rarely just fade away. But his announcement has upped the ante and, while his political opponents dance and his supporters bemoan the decision, the changing of the guard has already begun in Jefferson County. All eyes should be on the candidates and all ears should be listening intently to what they say. Change can be good or bad, but what is certain is that it will bring a different day to Jefferson County. We all need to be making good, informed decisions when we cast our ballots in 2018. And, we must, must exercise our right to vote.

Source: K. Depew, News Director