One of my life’s greatest joys is living in Inverness, along the shores of Big Lake Henderson, close to Wallace Brooks and Liberty parks.
My city has so much to offer: the Depot District, a thriving Courthouse Square, wonderful community events.
It’s simply a pleasant place to live. I walk through town every so often and say hi to people I don’t know. That’s Inverness.
It has so few needs, but I can think of one.
Inverness needs an election.
Qualifying for the November ballot is next week for municipal elections, and I’m hoping someone besides the incumbents decide to take a try at Inverness City Council.
This is no reflection on those up for reelection: Mayor Bob Plaisted, Dave Ryan (Seat 1), Gene Davis (Seat 3) and Linda Bega (Seat 5). They’re all strong community leaders who serve us well in office. (Read their city bios here.)
But I’m all about conversation to address community challenges, and the best avenue for conversation in an election.
A contested election for Inverness City Council is rare. I’ve been voting as a city resident for 17 years, and can’t remember the last time I cast a vote for city council.
The last two seated members of the city council, Ryan and Davis, were both placed into office by the council itself — Davis this past year, and Ryan in 2013.
Ryan ran for election in 2014 and won — unopposed. Same in 2018.
One might say this is an indicator of a strong city where citizens feel no need to upset the cart at election time.
Perhaps, but in Inverness there is some historical perspective.
The former city manager ran this city for two decades. Yes, within the confines of city council, but he wagged the dog not the other way around. And in those isolated incidents where someone was elected to city council who dared challenge his authority, he made life miserable for that person.
You just didn’t cross this dude. Even the council members knew that.
Well, those days are now gone. Thankfully, this new chapter with City Manager Eric Williams is much more inclusive.
And that’s where the election comes in. It’s the perfect time for a community chat.
A year before “Meadowcrest” became synonymous with “affordable housing apartments,” Inverness had the same battle with its own residents on a similar issue.
A lot of people showed up to the city council chambers and voiced their concerns that the city was growing faster than it should. The council disagreed, and there you go.
Except this is clearly an issue that residents are nervous about. Not only Inverness, but countywide. We need to have a discussion about residential density, apartments, traffic and all that.
Urging participation in an election isn’t to say the incumbents shouldn’t be re-elected. But it would be nice to engage them in community conversation, the kind that happens when there’s an opponent and someone has a meet-the-candidates forum.
I realize the incumbents won’t be thrilled I’m encouraging they have opponents. Most incumbents dream of being reelected without opposition.
It’s just that, in Inverness, uncontested elections have become the rule rather than the exception. Maybe this year we break that mold.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.