0

EDITORIAL: Cities, counties should look at Lovejoy

Bobby Cartwright is getting it right.

Yes, Lovejoy is a small town.

However large or small, good government is good government.

When citizens approach the Lovejoy City Council, they are welcomed with open arms.

If they are not on the agenda, the mayor still asks them if they would like to address the council during city meetings.

In fact, he encourages citizen input and involvement.

Unlike most local governments in Clayton County, Cartwright and members of the council do more than just sit and listen to citizens. They engage them. They respond to them. They answer them — they help them.

His style is a bit relaxed.

He doesn’t wear a coat and tie.

He’s pretty laid-back.

He says what he thinks, and you may not agree with him or with the council, but one thing is clear, the mayor and City Council members in Lovejoy understand they are servants of the public.

A citizen, not on the agenda, approaches city leaders during a meeting.

She expresses concerns over refuse left in the driveway of a home where the tenant has been evicted.

Whose responsibility is it?

Who will take care of it?

What is a citizen supposed to do?

The mayor responds, he’ll get it taken care of the next day.

What if it happens again in other locations?

“Just call me,” said the mayor.

No passing of the buck.

No throwing the sanitation department under the bus.

No forms to fill out, fees to pay, permits to secure, research to be done — just call the mayor.

The mayor told Clayton News Daily he doesn’t see the need for repeated and lengthy executive sessions.

“It’s all about the people,” he said.

He also does not believe in the value of a strong city manager form of government.

Why?

“We are elected to serve the citizens,” he said.

When someone wanted a copy of a public record, he didn’t say fill out an open records request, email City Hall, pay the production charges, wait three days, he just copied it and handed it over in a few seconds.

Even the confident Cartwright says he makes mistakes and does not always make the right decision. However, he also said that when he does mess up, he just owns up to it rather than trying to cover it up or explain it away.

So, he’s a little non-conventional.

He runs meetings that are full of laughter and open dialogue.

He’ll only wear a tie if he has to speak at a funeral.

He may not understand or care about all the social graces and political correctness, but the two things Lovejoy Mayor Bobby Cartwright does understand is how to be a real public servant and how to grow a real mustache.

— Editor Jim Zachary