I am writing to make the community aware of my decision not to seek another term on the Frankfort City Commission. I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve and leave you with some thoughts and cautions about the future of our community.
As I reflect upon the community, I truly believe that Frankfort is on the cusp of a major transformation. I am proud of my contribution to many positive steps implemented by the city commission in the last three years.
Some of these steps include updating a more proactive code enforcement policy (my first project as a commissioner), the hiring of a new city manager, an improved morale and culture amongst city personnel, and an increased level of support for our community partners, including Frankfort Independent Schools, the Kings Center and Access Soup Kitchen and Men's Shelter. Additionally, we have begun the implementation of the multimillion-dollar TIGER grant, the revitalization of the urban core through the development of the Downtown Master Plan, and the beginning of the transformation of Parcels B and C.
Frankfort is fortunate to have a municipal-based utility, as opposed to a large corporate service system, and I am also proud of the fact that we now have a newly reconstituted Frankfort Plant Board. This new board is in the process of ensuring that this organization is focused on being a strong community partner.
But the plant board, with its $110 million operating budget has, in recent years, been the subject of much political maneuvering. Any faction who gains a three-majority vote, along with the mayor, on the city commission has the ability to “stack” the FPB Board of Directors with people who share their agenda. With the combined budgetary strength of the city and plant board of nearly $200 million a year, every facet of community life can be affected, rendering representative democracy ineffectual and dissenting voices marginalized.
We should demand independent, competent and common-sense choices for FPB directors from our mayor and commissioners. The plant board exists to provide reliable utility service to the people, many of whom are on fixed incomes, at the lowest possible cost, and not to be an agent of social experimentation. Stability and competence at the plant board are essential for creating future job growth and growing a healthy economy.
Finally, I am concerned about the rise of political action committees, as well as wealthy individuals, and their ability to concentrate large sums of money into our local, nonpartisan elections, just as they do nationally. This is extremely troublesome. These donors may be well-intentioned; or they could be trying to force an extreme ideological agenda (left or right).
Regardless, their resources give these individuals an unfair advantage and could drown out the voices of regular citizens. We need the best and brightest candidates to compete for our local offices without the corrupting influence of large donors.
The voters should carefully examine potential candidates for competence, experience, accomplishment and motivation. We need to choose our leaders in an open, honest contest. We need leaders who will continue to move the community forward.
While I am making this announcement about my future today, I remain committed to serving at the highest level for the rest of my term. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the community that I love so deeply.
Scott Tippett is a Frankfort city commissioner. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.