Georgia County Government - January/February 2012 - (Page 9)
Together We Stand
By Lamar Norton
As we continue to work together, gaining strength and comfort in our shared mission and challenges, we must continue to respect the differences between us.
am honored to be a part of the long and distinguished histor y of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). Founded in 1933, just under 20 years after the founding of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), GMA has had a history of stability and steady leadership. I am pleased to be able to do my part to continue that legacy. Throughout our shared history, GMA and ACCG have been intertwined in legislative initiatives and in a shared mission. We both seek to assist local government leaders in performing their duties to the highest standards of responsiveness and transparency. Legislatively, we both seek to make the collective voice of city and county governments heard at the Capitol and work to ensure that those elected to lead cities and counties have the tools needed to carry out their mandated responsibilities and the flexibility to be responsive to the unique expectations of local voters. That is what sets local government apart from any other branch or level of government. Occasionally we have been at odds over legislation; and I expect there will be times when we are again. But the relationship between GMA and ACCG is stronger now than it ever has been, and I believe the strength of those deep ties and mutual respect will carry us through any rough patches. We are both committed to keeping lines of communication open, even when faced with differences of opinion. ACCG Executive Director Ross King made it a priority of his to reach out to GMA when he became executive director. I look forward to continuing that relationship and will be looking for even more opportunities for our two organizations to work together. As past legislative sessions have taught us, we are a much stronger force at the Capitol when we work in unison. Along with the Georgia School Boards Association, GMA and ACCG have been able to sustain this coalition that had its origin in the fight against the so-called GREAT Plan. Our message is simple and unambiguous — we are firm in our resolve to protect the integrity of local decision making. That message has resonated with legislators. Like any team effort, there are strengths each member brings to the whole. Although
there are obvious similarities between city and county governments, we must also clearly understand and embrace our differences. I can tell you that our officers and staff understand the unique state-county relationship embedded in our state constitution. We understand the challenges county commissions face in performing their constitutional duties. Running a court system and jail operations and dealing with the indigent are not easy tasks. And the 159 counties in our state are as diverse in their ability to perform these tasks as are the 538 cities in the state in providing value added services to their residents. Cities have different challenges that require different voices to articulate them. People live in cities by choice. They are driven by a wide range of factors such as education and employment opportunities, arts, recreation, public safety services or simply a quality of life that ref lects their values. Many consciously pay higher taxes for these amenities and higher level of service. Over the course of my career, I have been amazed to see the energy and commitment city leaders have to meet these service expectations. They work to build vibrant places that not only serve city residents and businesses, but also add value to the greater community and visitors from near and far. What is clear to me is that as we continue to work together, gaining strength and comfort in our shared mission and challenges, we must continue to respect the differences between us and how those differences make us stronger. Strong and vibrant counties are important to city residents as much as strong and healthy cities should be important to county leaders. Embracing our differences will enable us to more effectively address one our greatest challenges — educating state and federal policy makers who don’t always have a full grasp or appreciation of the issues city and county officials face. I look forward to working with ACCG to strengthen one of the most cherished institutions in our country’s history — the government closest to the people — local government. ■ Lamar Norton is the Executive Director of the Georgia Municipal Association.
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012 www.accg.org
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - January/February 2012
Guest Editorial: Together We Stand
Harris County: Smart Investments Paying Dividends for the Future
EMS Delivery Models in Georgia
How New EMS Technologies are Improving Patient Care
Regional EMS: Opportunities for Better Service and Lower Costs?
EMS Leadership Course Planned
Washington D.C. Update
Georgia Public Safety Radio Systems Must Transition to Narrowbanding
Fulton County Public Works Recognized with APWA Accreditation
Extension News: Teens Solving Community Problems
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers
Georgia County Government - January/February 2012