Gadsden voters who went to the polls on Tuesday re-elected Sherman Guyton to another term as mayor, his fourth, by a decisive 18-point margin over challenger Carolyn Parker.
Note the tone of the first nine words of the previous sentence. It’s not designed to add a caveat to Guyton’s victory, give it short shrift or deny his mandate.
It’s just that one week ago in this space, we spanked Gadsden’s voters for the dismal turnout — just 31 percent of those on the active rolls — in the municipal election on Aug. 28.
Well, the official count including provisional ballots won’t take place until this week, but turnout did increase — by a whopping 1 percent, a little more than 200 additional voters. We’ll simply give thanks for small victories and move on.
Still, it’s obvious that the electorate is satisfied enough with Guyton’s performance as mayor since 2006, when he easily won a three-way race with incumbent Steve Means and Eddie Hedgspeth, that they saw no need to make a change.
People like steady and consistent — and Guyton certainly has been that.
We’ve documented and praised the way his administration kept Gadsden’s books balanced, both during the economic downturn at the end of the last decade when other cities were struggling, and in better times.
We’ve documented and praised the job creation and economic growth that has taken place during his administration.
We’ve documented and praised his administration’s commitment to K-12 education and to workforce development.
We’ve documented and praised the steps that have been taken toward properly using Gadsden’s No. 1 natural asset (with apologies to Noccalula Falls), the Coosa River.
We’ve documented and praised additions to the local landscape like The Venue and The Riverwalk at Coosa Landing, and the upgrades at Moragne Park.
There are naysayers who say their nays quite loudly (typically on social media), even if they never quite make it to the polls.
They point out every pothole on every city street and wonder why they aren’t repaired by the close of business, then gripe about the inconvenience created when the crews come out.
They dismiss the development that’s taken place and the jobs that have been created as being "only" at restaurants, mattress stores and check-cashing services. (That’s hyperbole; look at what’s happening at Koch Foods and other manufacturing plants in the city.)
They dismiss what’s been done along the riverfront as frivolity that detracts from their mantra: “jobs, jobs, jobs,” preferably with benefits and high salaries. (They don’t understand that developers who can provide those types of jobs consider such frivolity — they view it as a reflection of the city’s quality of life — when contemplating where to hang a shingle.)
They dismiss the notion that people must take responsibility for preparing themselves — through workforce development — for careers in the 21st century. They long for the days when someone with a high school education (or a little less) and a strong back, a good work ethic and a father or grandfather who had preceded them could “hire on at the plant” and work for 40 years and support a family. As we’ve said repeatedly, those days are gone and never, ever coming back, no matter how many politicians promise otherwise.
Guyton will never please those folks. We doubt anyone can.
Do we wish he would occasionally set his sights a bit higher — step outside the box and toss a pair of dice or fire a metaphoric shot at the stars toward something conventional wisdom says is out of Gadsden’s wheelhouse?
We’ll say “perhaps,” while conceding that’s not in his nature and might even repel supporters who like him for what he is — again, a strong, steady hand on this city’s tiller who has worked harmoniously with the council (which will have a couple of new members moving forward).
We congratulate Guyton on his victory, and are anxious to see what kind of continued imprint he’ll leave on Gadsden’s history.