Perhaps the closest thing we’ll ever see to a re-enactment of Brutus’ betrayal of Caesar happened last January.
Jamie Doss, Rome’s commission-elected mayor, was seeking another one-year term from his colleagues. Also in the running was longtime Commissioner Bill Collins. It was cruising toward a 5-4 vote in Doss’ favor when the dagger made contact.
Randy Quick, complete with the dramatic pause of a soap opera, flipped his vote to Collins, stunning fellow commissioners. The jolt didn’t last long, though, as they next voted Quick in as mayor pro tem. Wendy Davis’ nomination to the post died without a second.
The webcast of the minutes surrounding that overall vote are worth a look if you’ve never seen it before. Watch it here or please see the minutes below.
In all that’s happened in the past 12 months, we think that pro tem vote would change if held today. But what’s important is what happens this coming Monday.
City commissioners again will select a mayor from among their ranks on Jan. 13 but things are far different. There are three new faces on the board – Bonny Askew (who actually is making a return to the commission) and newcomers Jim Bojo and Mark Cochran.
Conversations and lobbying for not just the mayor’s post but for something of an alliance among the nine-member commission began just minutes after the final vote tally was announced on Nov. 5. There were commissioners attending others victory parties.
And now two months later, it is time to see who stands where and with whom. More important, will the City Commission of 2020 embrace the push for change in city government mandated in the November election. The mayor’s vote will be the first indicator. And please let us clarify: This is no push to oust Bill Collins; his work on Summerville Park alone perhaps earned him a new term. But others disagree.
The word on the street is Collins could be challenged by Craig McDaniel. Or will Jamie Doss attempt a comeback? Or does Wendy Davis – now the third-longest serving commissioner behind Collins and Doss and who’s stock remains high with city voters — have the support, perhaps thanks to some of the changing dynamics from the election.
Davis was a huge supporter of Collins in the last vote, and in earlier votes for that matter.
All this is important as there’s been some talk of a default candidate, a plan B should there fail to be enough votes in the opening round for any of the commissioners.
Would that be Quick? We hear no and we hear that his time as pro tem is temporary. Et tu, Brutus? Some of the incumbents from the last January surprise haven’t forgotten. But what could come into conflict is this: Collins seemingly enjoys a good relationship with Quick. That could have some impact on Collins’ bid for another year as mayor if he stands with Quick in appreciation for his flip last January.
Barring technical difficulties, this all should play out on the commission webcast very early in Monday night’s meeting.
And while the mayor’s title carries weight and significance, the vote will do one more thing. It will set the tone of which way the commission moves in the new year.
We’re 60 or so days out of an election that saw two incumbents fall. It was an election built around the need to change the commission, to change the culture of city government.
Whether it was the artificial parking crisis created around last year’s high school graduations, downtown smoking, the always popular indoor tennis courts, the thousands of extra city tax dollars needlessly flowing into economic development as it was poached from the chamber or a revolving door within city government, people want change.
More important, people want to be heard and not told what to do by those who think they know best. Last year alone showed that the city is out of touch; the November vote underscored that.
So it all starts again at Monday’s City Commission meeting. There’s new blood in the mix and a call for change. We’ll soon find out if the city is listening or not.