I read, with interest, Rev. R.B. Holmes’ counsel in these pages to Erwin Jackson, calling on him to reconcile his differences with Mayor John Marks for the sake of community comity. But if Jackson cedes to Holmes’ request, he would have forsaken his vital community role.
Jackson has turned out to be a more effective and gruffer Eugene Danaher, a community gadfly, set on turning the tables on the community’s elite. There’s been a certain arrogance, followed by complacency in the town’s political movers-and-shakers.
The ever-more complicated web of connections and influence-mongering has sapped faith in the public institutions we rely on for important services. In 2010, Steve Stewart ran a close race, as a known Republican, against Marks, over the city’s aloof utility policy and deferred compensation move, in a Democratic town.
Recently, former Tallahassee mayor Scott Maddox’s real estate transactions received an airing out on the front-page of the town’s flagship newspaper. Some say in a city like this, the type of close relationships that foster dubious financial arrangements like Marks and Maddox is inevitable.
If so, then what Jackson does remains a necessary buffer between right behavior and possible corruption. Perhaps a more polished, less confrontational personality would be better. But Jackson achieves results.
From the deferred compensation issue to Marks’s ADA entanglement, Jackson has done a duty as a public-spirited citizen. (I would that more were like him).
In Jackson, there is a useful reminder that public service is not always serving within councils, but often standing outside of them, bringing transparency and accountability within the corridors and rooms where power is exercised unseen.