The citizens of Forest Park made one thing abundantly clear Tuesday: They are pleased with the direction of the current administration.
Mayor David Lockhart was re-elected in decisive fashion.
Voters gave him a full four-year term over two opponents.
It is significant there will be no runoff in the mayoral election.
There will be a runoff in wards 1 and 2 since no candidate earned enough votes to take the offices outright.
The four top vote getters, two from each ward, will face off again Dec. 3.
Lockhart’s showing over two very high-profile candidates sent a very strong message that should not go unnoticed.
Admittedly there has been some controversy and quite a city shake-up during his short tenure.
However, when voters speak, and speak so clearly, it behooves everyone to listen.
Government should never be about the will of a select few, cause groups or even the elected officials themselves.
It should be all about the will of the people.
The people expressed their will this week.
In fact, the results pretty much speak for themselves.
We are not endorsing everything Lockhart says or does, thinks or feels.
We are, however, most certainly endorsing the citizens of Forest Park.
It is your city.
It is your government.
This is, most clearly, your choice.
Once again the sentiments expressed by Lockhart were the right words at the right time.
“The council is working well together,” he said. “I’m humbled at the support I received. It’s not lost on me, the responsibility and the trust the voters have given me. I will do all I can to make sure I earn what they have paid for in advance. We’ve got two seats in a runoff but I’m already encouraged by what we’ve got. We’re on the right track.”
When he first won the seat to fill out the unexpired term, he spoke very candidly about the importance and need for government transparency.
There have been times over the course of the past few months that public records request have been stalled and/or denied at City Hall.
Decisions have been made during that same time period regarding staffing at City Hall, where there was little to no public discussion.
That is not very transparent.
If fact, it is rather opaque.
The mayor has consistently said he does not involve himself in day-to-day operations at City Hall and may not always be aware of a records request.
We encourage him, nevertheless, to help set the tone and build a culture of greater transparency in Forest Park.
We remind the full council there is no requirement in the state’s open meetings law to go into executive session.
You are allowed to go into executive session to discuss personnel issues, pending or ongoing litigation and actual real estate transactions, but you are not required to. It is still a choice.
Surely employees should be protected when there is personal, private information involved, but beyond that, do the people’s business out in the open.
And, congratulations Mayor Lockhart.
— Editor Jim Zachary