Ray Washington: The Declaration of 2013


Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.

A few days before the recent Gainesville mayoral election, 19 local politicians — including five sitting Gainesville city commissioners — issued the following political proclamation:

"A mayor who is politically or personally in conflict with the majority of the City Commission can speak for himself, but not for the city. Such an imbalance leads to power struggles, dysfunction and two voices."

This political pronouncement did not conclude with words quite as ringing as those penned by Thomas Jefferson 237 years ago.

There was no: "We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Instead, the Declaration of 2013 of simply concluded: "We sign our names, with years of elective service listed."

But the governing principles that these 19 signatories considered to be self-evident and were no less bold, if not quite revolutionary.

They included the propositions that differing political viewpoints are detrimental to democracy, and that politicians, having been elected, should formally band together and instruct voters how and for whom to vote.

At the time that Jefferson put in words the sacred beliefs of an earlier generation of political leaders, it was far from certain whether the propositions he memorialized would prevail.

The same is true in Gainesville today.

It will be for posterity to determine how, or if, the political pronouncement of Gainesville's self-styled political elite will guide future generations in perfecting Gainesville city government.

But, in the meantime, will the author of the Declaration of 2013 step forward and, like the Jefferson of an earlier generation, claim the credit that she or he justly deserves?

Ray Washington lives in Gainesville.

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