Why I'm voting for Jay Purcell

Sunday, October 26, 2008

By Alfred Pannier

The people of Cape Girardeau County have a clear choice for District 2 Cape Girardeau County commissioner this year: Jay Purcell, a man who has put his family and the people first in his tenure as commissioner. Or the Good Old Boy Network. I'm voting for Jay Purcell.

Anybody seen "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?" There are some lessons to be learned from that movie. The film stars Jimmy Stewart as an idealistic young man thrust into the dark, sometimes corrupt, inner workings of the U.S. Congress. He enters into his service with good intentions and true beliefs and then is roundly underestimated by the powers that be. Those powers try to destroy the film's hero by spreading lies about him, but in the end he is vindicated.

The Good Old Boy Network can try to spread lies about Jay Purcell in an effort to discredit him, but the truth has a way of punishing those who seek to hide it. Jay Purcell is a good and decent man, a husband, a father, a neighbor, a local businessman and an elected official who has Cape Girardeau's best interests as his first priority. His critics seem to think Jay's disagreements with this fellow commissioners are a sign that he's a rabble-rouser and someone with "baggage." These kinds of comments are not only untrue but seem to show a fundamental misunderstanding of how government is supposed to work.

What exactly should we think when Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones and District 1 Commissioner Larry Bock tell us that they would have acted differently and said different things had they known that Jay Purcell was recording an illegally closed commission meeting? Are they kidding? They are elected officials, whose salaries we pay, but if they know the taxpayers are listening they're going to change what they say and do? This is supposed to be a rallying cry against Jay Purcell? If Jay Purcell is for open and transparent government, what do his opponents stand for?

Apparently, some of his opponents think that unabashed lying is the way to ensure that Jay Purcell is silenced. Statements that Jay released only portions of the recordings he had made are categorically untrue. Jay gave all recordings to the county and to the Southeast Missourian, not in an attempt to manipulate or influence others, but to open up Cape Girardeau County government and, in doing so, to make Cape Girardeau County government better.

Jay would be the first to admit that he has clashed with his fellow commissioners. He fought to try to keep them from voting to sell your park land for $80,000 below appraisal, fought to stop the county from buying an outgoing commissioner a brand-new $25,000 truck, and took the county to court with his own money to make it follow Missouri's open meetings law.

Taking on the Good Old Boy Network has opened Jay up to attacks from some of the most powerful people in this county. When listening to the attacks, the people of Cape Girardeau County should be asking themselves the following question: If Jay Purcell is for open and transparent government, what do his opponents stand for?

Jay Purcell is a man of integrity who has given the people of Cape Girardeau County a record of how its county government operates. If Jay had not taped the illegally closed meeting of the commission meeting earlier this year, the people would have no idea that an elected county official was misusing county resources and other county officials were trying to help cover it up.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said, "People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives." Jay Purcell is a leader who has taken on Good Old Boy bosses. Jay Purcell is the leader Cape Girardeau County needs.

Alfred Pannier is a Cape Girardeau resident.

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