It’s got to be tough being the underdog. Mayoral candidate James Dewberry wasn’t on the panel at last week’s mayor forum, but rather in the crowd. Why? He wasn’t invited.
The Savannah Morning News reported that “he was not considered a viable candidate,” said a representative of the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA).
Earlier that afternoon, before the forum started, Dewberry received an email outlining why he wasn’t invited: Because Dewberry’s positions are “well known and highly appreciated from your previous runs for office,” secretary of the DNA, Robert McAlister, said. But aren’t other runners well-known in the political circuit, aren’t many involved in the city’s daily happenings? Is one of the candidates not a former mayor of Savannah?
McAlister, however, assured Dewberry that he was welcomed at the aldermanic forum “if you would like to be introduced and say a few words.” But, that was after the mayoral forum.
The city’s buzzword should be “transparency.” Is it an issue of keeping power, or does Savannah just not trust the judgment of her citizens? In a city whose government has a recent history of public exclusion, what good could it do to shun a qualified candidate?
Well, hopefully, wonders.
By excluding Dewberry from this one event, our local government did exactly what he wanted. They showed us they haven’t changed their ways and aren’t learning from their past mistakes. Ironically enough, the major topic of the evening was the closed-to-public meetings the council had during their city manager search.
The Attorney General warned the city and its council with infractions against the Open Meetings Act which occurred late last year and earlier this year, but receded the fine. What will it take for the mayor, councilpersons and the DNA to take accountability?
With elections just around the corner, the people of Savannah must take a step back before voting. When casting your vote this year, remember the times our mayor and city officials spent $22,500 on a “trade mission” to China. When will we see the benefits of that? How about the closed-door meetings and the frivolous spending we’ve seen? Ellis square, really?
What we need as a community is bigger than a port expansion, bigger than dredging and surely bigger than revoking a qualified runner’s first amendment rights.