Cairo's future

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Voters in Cairo, Ill., have spoken. They have chosen a new mayor, selected city council members and chosen school board members. The election provides a dividing point, one that residents can embrace or ignore. The rancor that bedeviled this struggling city before last week's balloting doesn't have to continue. With fresh faces in office there is an opportunity for consensus-building and efforts to secure a brighter future for this historic town at the confluence of the nation's two mightiest rivers.

Proposals for major industrial development in Cairo -- bringing the promise of jobs and a jump-start on economic development -- need the attention of city officials. With a show of leadership, Cairo could start to reverse the nearly 40 years of decline that have wracked the city and left its main commercial district resembling a Third World war zone.

There is much worth preserving in Cairo: its history, its architectural gems, its access to the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, its unique culture. But all of these are threatened if the city returns to its recent storm of bickering. This is Cairo's season of opportunity. Let's hope for the best.

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