City and county government officials will break bread later today during a joint meeting held downtown in the Allen's Market building. Though both city and county officials contend no particular issue brought forth today's meeting, the idea was brought up recently and discussed by both boards as a means to establish common ground between the two governing bodies.
It's not unusual for elected officials to butt heads on some issues. Each has to answer to his or her constituency and is charged to fight for the issues and concerns of those they represent. But just as it is not uncommon for them to sometimes disagree, what should also not be an exception is room for common ground. After all the economic upheaval Baldwin County has faced in the past few years, if there were ever a time for a common focus on economic growth and recovery it's certainly now.
These two governing bodies represent unique facets of local government. There are those who have been in office long enough to remember a time when friction between city and county was greater, comparatively speaking, than it is at the present. There is also a segment that represents a changing of the guard, a shift in leadership with a new perspective. There are equal amounts of both, and both sets of outlooks and perspectives need to be brought to the table.
Councilman Steve Chambers recently recalled a time when the groups met regularly up until the early '90s, when he said, competition got in the way in the last few years and the meetings were phased out.
It's time these boards get back to that routine. It shouldn't take a key issue to bring these government entities together, in fact, meeting regularly may help ease the discussions when major concerns arise.
This should be a time to remember that common ground and what should be the common objective - the one that ideally spurred their interests to run for public office in the first place - to serve the people of Milledgeville and Baldwin County in an effort for progress and growth.
Today's meeting will consist of a presentation from a representative from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia and is open to the public. This is also an ideal opportunity to hear from those making the decisions on the issues in city and county government and formulate questions.
What this should not be is a ceremonial effort or a one-time event. It should instead be a new attempt to step out on good faith in hopes of working to realize progress in this community.
Everybody's idea of progress is different - it often depends on who is asked or even which portion of the county one poses the question to.
Not every conversation on every issue is ideal nor are they always entirely positive, but they must at least happen to find the common ground and move forward.