With Valentine’s Day nearly upon us (it’s tomorrow, so those of you who forgot have one more day to get it together), it’s hard not to reflect on what the day means and how it’s grown.
What was once a day solely meant for couples in love has become one where we recognize our friends, co-workers, parents and children and the value they bring to our lives.
Cynics will likely attribute the expansion to a corporate cash grab as retailers look for new ways to get people to part with their hard-earned money.
They’re probably not wrong.
But, showing someone you care for and value them doesn’t have to cost a dime, and in fact, it should be something everyone strives to do every single day.
That rings especially true for our elected leaders in their treatment of one another and in carrying out the duties entrusted to them by those they represent.
No, we don’t expect your local council members or township supervisors to send you a Valentine or leave “Be Mine” candies in your mailbox.
However, we do expect — as should you — that they’ll show you and one another kindness and understanding as they serve in their elected roles.
It seems some of our public servants in both Uniontown and Monessen could do with a shot of both.
Relationships in both city governments have been strained since the start of the year.
There’s been a changing of the guard in Uniontown as Bill Gerke took over the mayor’s post from Ed Fike in January, and Antoinette Hodge took over the treasurer’s post Joseph Giachetti held for 12 years.
Both Gerke and Hodge, fair and square, won elections last year to get those seats. There’s nothing more to it than that. Voters elected them to office, believing they would do good. That means the existing council members and other city officials must work with them.
And yet, Hodge filed a federal lawsuit alleging some city officials tried to block her from getting sworn in, and some of Gerke’s requests, like reopening the city budget, have been summarily shot down.
Monessen hasn’t had a changing of the guard so much as they’ve had absentee public officials return to serve.
After missing 40-plus meetings (and undoubtedly because they would again be in the majority thanks to the election of council member Don Gregor) Mayor Matt Shorraw and council member Gilbert Coles have returned to conduct the public business they were sworn in to conduct in 2018.
Yelling, terminations and alleged Sunshine Law violations have punctuated that city’s past few meetings.
There are, it appears, factions at war in both cities, each vying to take control and come out on top.
It has to stop. If our current national political climate has taught us nothing, when our elected leaders fight, we all lose.
Look, we don’t think that officials in either city are going to exchange flowers or chocolates with one another tomorrow, but we hope they might reflect on what Valentine’s Day has come to mean. It’s not too much to ask that they dig deep on a day dedicated to strengthening relationships, and extend an olive branch to one another for the betterment of those they work with and those they serve.