It’s time for leadership in Joseph

Editorial voice of the Chieftain

It was disheartening to hear of the resignation of Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands. If the Joseph City Council can now move beyond bickering and animosity, it will be a good thing.

If six months from now it’s business as usual, that will be a problem.

It serves no purposes when a city descends into dysfunction and elected officials spend more time arguing than working for the people who pay their salaries.

The solution has to come from within.

Municipalities are their own legitimate level of government run by duly elected or appointed individuals. A state “takeover” of a city is nearly unheard of and anything involving the Oregon Government Ethics Commission is not a quick or clear solution.

“The Oregon Government Ethics Commission will impartially and effectively administer and enforce Oregon’s government ethics laws for the benefit of Oregon’s citizens. The Commission will emphasize education in achieving its mission.”

In other words, don’t expect too much.

There’s also the option of disincorporating, in which case, Joseph would go back to being governed by Wallowa County. At least one city in recent history in Oregon has taken this step.

Traditionally, small cities are run by an administrator, manager or whatever you wish to call it. Joseph needs to find such a person as quickly as possible and let him or her lead them out of the wilderness.

Not everyone will like it, but the trains will run on time.

Michele Young was cut from that sort of cloth. She kept the ship of state on course in Enterprise through a lot of storms during her tenure as city administrator. Not everyone agreed with her, some violently disagreed, but things were accomplished.

Look at the city’s water and sewer services as an example.

Unquestionably, public input and having taxpayers take part in formulating the city’s direction is important. Consensus-building is vital, but there comes a time when decisions need to be made, a direction determined and then progress follows.

Nothing will turn around in Joseph until there is leadership. No one on the city council should be expected to be the full-time administrator, unless a council member wishes to apply for the job.

Part of the success of a good leader is the support of good followers. But someone has to pull the sword out of the stone and point it in one direction or another and yell “charge.”

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