An editorial by: Jessie Ellefson, Macon County Chronicle Editor

When we think about the times in our lives when luck just didn’t seem to be on our side, when devastating circumstances left us with little hope or when we found ourselves between a proverbial rock and a hard place, our thoughts often settle on the people who showed up for us – our friends and neighbors who proved, through their compassion, loyalty and generosity that we were not alone.

And even in the larger scheme of things - in our cities, our county, our state and even our country, there comes a time when we need political leaders that come to our aide, rescue us from uncertainty and deliver us from that lingering sense of solitude.

But perhaps last week, as Red Boiling Springs residents filled city hall for a meeting to discuss flood damage and repairs, it was the elected leaders that did not show up for them that they will not soon forget.

Four empty seats at the city council table and a meeting notice with the word “refused” next to the names of their Mayor and three elected government officials, served as reminders to business owners and city taxpayers that their questions and concerns for their city, and their livelihood, were not important enough, their time not valuable enough and their comments not worthy enough to be heard.

Perhaps they had their reasons for not attending a meeting where a state senator and a state representative were to give up their valuable time to discuss financial solutions and steps towards recovery, but I ask . . . would any of them be good enough??

It’s no secret that personality conflicts exist between the group of men elected to lead the City of Red Boiling Springs, but when push comes to shove, when the community is looking towards them for guidance and when a natural disaster hits too close to home, isn’t it time to bury the hatchet? To do the job they were elected to do without the threat of personal agendas, hostility and egos getting in the way?

Last Wednesday, as concerned RBS citizens learned that four elected officials had denied them the opportunity to voice their concerns, their moods shifted from appalled, to hurt, to angry . . . and who could blame them?

The residents that filled that room weren’t expecting to get all of the answers they needed that night, they weren’t there to ask the city government to perform miracles or even heal their wounds, but they did expect something – they expected the people that they elected to lead to them to do just that . . . they expected those seats to be full . . . they expected their Mayor and City Council to show up for them.

Throughout Middle Tennessee, as families wade through the hallways of their unrecognizable homes, clinging to the salvageable and relying on the kindness of strangers, many are feeling that same neglect from the national news media and our federal government, as third world countries and headlines guaranteed to increase ratings take precedent over the plight of our own Volunteer state. But even in the hardest hit areas, their City leaders are united, fighting to quickly recuperate and keep their residents informed and at ease.  

And as election time approaches, perhaps we can all learn a valuable lesson from the folks in Red Boiling Springs. Instead of voting for a candidate because of the letter beside their name, or not voting for a candidate based on the last thing whispered about them around the water cooler, perhaps we should all cast our vote for the candidates whose names we feel will answer that one important question in a time of uncertainty. . . ‘Who’s gonna show up for you?’