The Withering Away of the State

… or at least the small town.

I’ve mentioned before that my Dad was the mayor of our small Northern Kentucky city for twenty years, and served part-time as city administrator even after he passed the gavel along, holding that position until his death. He took the position basically by default, when the sitting mayor’s part of the city deannexed itself and someone had to take the gig. The mayoralty paid about 25 bucks a month in his early terms, but he was pulling down double that by the end of his time in office. For that, he took phone calls about things that were and weren’t the responsibility of the city, cleaned the city building when the janitor wasn’t available (the janitor made $45/month), and changed the tires on our cars when they were slashed after the council passed an ordinance banning on-street parking in our neighborhood — little kids were known to dart from between parked cars, and it was a safety measure. It really wasn’t worth his trouble. He was the only elected official I’ve ever trusted, at least in part because he neither wanted nor needed the job, but he figured that even if no one else wanted the job, the city needed some kind of leader, lest it become part of the sprawl that has afflicted the rest of the area where I grew up. He was a genuine public servant, and I’m proud that the city recognized that, by naming the city building for him after he and Mom were killed. (Mom had worked as a fill-in clerk/receptionist as needed by the city — the garden in front of the building is dedicated to her memory.)

I was reminded of all this a few minutes ago, when I saw an NYT article about another city in Mondo County, about 15 miles from my house. It seems that no one wants to be the mayor of Little Mountain, SC (“The Highest Point Between Greenville and the Sea”). This has made things… complicated. It’s an interesting story, and a surprisingly common one. A couple of commenters happen to live in Little Mountain, and I hope they might lend their perspectives to the comments here. Although Little Mountain is closer to Real City than Mondoville is, I don’t think they’re in immediate danger of becoming suburban sprawl. However, I do wonder what it means to a city when no one thinks it’s worth the trouble.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to The Withering Away of the State

  1. Didn’t Rabbit Hash have a dog for mayor a few years back? What I find most disturbing is citizens’ day-to-day lives are frequently affected more by local politics than national…

    • profmondo says:

      Well, RH isn’t/wasn’t a legally incorporated city, so that’s a different case. For much of Dad’s run as mayor, his stock joke was that Union was “the third-largest city in Boone County”, as there were only three incorporated cities in the county (Don’t know if that remains the case.)

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