Staff Columnist

In government, seeing is believing

Linn County Supervisor Chair Stacey Walker (second from right)  shakes hands with Cedar Rapids city council member Dale Todd (left) after Walker delivered the State of the County address during the State of the County Luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Linn County at The Kirkwood Center in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Linn County Supervisor Chair Stacey Walker (second from right) shakes hands with Cedar Rapids city council member Dale Todd (left) after Walker delivered the State of the County address during the State of the County Luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Linn County at The Kirkwood Center in southwest Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

We need our leaders to push through the noise and understand their role in creating a new paradigm for progress.

That sentence comes courtesy of Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker. It was one of many included in the State of the County address he gave on Wednesday.

Walker wanted to those in attendance to hone their vision for the future. “We recognize that some things have to be believed, in order to be seen,” he said. We gently remind Walker and all of our elected officials that the opposite also rings true. Some things, in order to be believed, must be seen.

Political strategy, private meetings and, yes, even the famed egos of the women and men who lead us across multiple local jurisdictions do not lend themselves to public transparency or understanding. The beauty of the shining beacon on the hill, the one that inspires generations to give their all and push their limits, is everyone can see and be drawn to it.

According to Walker, the county is “prepared to go the distance alongside all of our partners in municipal government” in both critical items, like flood protection, and lower-priority initiatives. No doubt residents of Linn County are glad to hear it, even as they rest in front-row seats to observe the petty squabbles that threaten to block progress.

Adults, Walker notes, sometimes disagree. Yet residents of the county, or the numerous municipalities and school districts that comprise it, do not cringe at the prospect of adult disagreement.

There is pride to be found in the actions of each jurisdiction. That the county is working to address chronic behavioral health issues that have overwhelmed our correctional system isn’t a bone of contention. That the City of Cedar Rapids continues to push for much needed flood protection, or that the City of Marion continues to target community mobility isn’t typically fodder at local diners.

Such points of pride are dimmed when juxtaposed with blazing egos.

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Neighboring counties, including Johnson, provide regular multi-jurisdictional meetings to keep each other informed and provide much needed context to residents. Regardless of who holds the reins of power, the people must see collaboration in action. Ideas and their subsequent initiatives are stronger when they have been heard, debated and vetted.

Such deliberate cooperation, which has long been absent locally, won’t be easy. We acknowledge in the short term it may place a more intense spotlight on existing conflicts. But, there is no denying its necessity.

The lesson, as Walker so eloquently noted, is clear: We are capable of doing great things when we push past the ego; when we free ourselves of the superficial limitation of tradition, and well-worn dogmas, and tired allegiances. Such words demand action. Let us see it.

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