Editorial: Officials face problems, potential after inauguration

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“Give us, we pray, the power to discern clearly right from wrong, and allow all our words and actions to be governed thereby, and by the laws of this land. Especially we pray that our concern shall be for all the people regardless of station, race or calling. May cooperation be permitted and be the mutual aim of those who, under the concepts of our Constitution, hold to differing political faiths; so that all may work for the good of our beloved country and Thy glory. Amen.”

Mayor Joseph M. Petty, the City Council and School Committee will be inaugurated Monday, Jan. 4, at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The quote above from Dwight D. Eisenhower, from his inaugural on Jan. 20, 1953, seems appropriate as a contentious 2015 yields to a 2016 full of potential unrealized and problems known and unknown.

Public service in any form is a noble endeavor, especially for those who seek and hold elected office. Those hearty enough among us to subject themselves to the slings and arrows of discontented constituents and work full-time hours for part-time pay not only merit respect, they command it.

In exchange, the public has the right to expect that those chosen to lead them act with wisdom and goodwill, and without narrowness of mind and attempts at personal glorification.

Moreover, as the pace of change accelerates in post-industrial cities such as Worcester, elected officials need to rise to the challenge of acting with a greater sense of urgency.

The 2015 election exposed diametrically opposing views of the current state of the city and its schools. Just as Petty’s November defeat of challenger Michael T. Gaffney cannot be seen as a complete repudiation of the feelings of anxiety and dissatisfaction Gaffney exposed, the School Committee victories by challengers Donna Colorio and Molly McCullough over incumbents Hilda Ramirez and Tracy O’Connell Novick do not mean there aren’t things that are working in the Worcester Public Schools.

Regardless of your view of the state of affairs within the city and schools, we believe now is the time to come together as a community to move the city forward.

In December 2013, the National League of Cities released the report listing 10 critical imperatives facing cities. The list included fragile fiscal health, shrinking middle class, inadequate access to higher education, the need for affordable housing, gang violence and a lack of public trust in government.

To the extent these imperatives are common, be it within Gateway Cities, other cities in the Northeast or nationwide, there exists a very competitive environment for limited resources, jobs and educational aid.

The winners will be those cities that can resist the urge to play petty politics and deal with issues head on and with haste.

The Worcester Public Schools are good schools, but they can be better.

The city has done a good job trying to develop the economy of the future, but there’s more to be done.

The residents of Worcester would be well served if the officials who gather tomorrow afternoon remember that and take to heart Ike’s words.

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