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Who will be the mayor of tomorrow?

It’s time to find the mayor of tomorrow.

No, it’s not the man who won the majority of votes in last night’s city elections. He’s only the mayor for four years, maybe eight.

He’s no spring chicken — no offense, Mr. Mayor-to-be — and he does not represent the long-term future of Natchez.

What Natchez needs to spend the next four years finding is what it’s been missing for the last 12 or more years — a long-term leader.

Not since a young Tony Byrne warmed the mayor’s chair in City Hall has this community had a young, promising leader who stuck around for a while.

Instead, the voters of Natchez seem to enjoy watching the door to the mayor’s office spin.

If the mayor’s doing a bad job, he needs to be replaced, yes.

But it’s a catch-22. Replacing a mayor every four years will never take a city far.

The lessons learned in the first term are necessary for a successful second term. The knowledge of an incumbent is always greater than that of a green challenger.

The race for the mayor’s office this year was full of familiar faces. It made things interesting, and was the right thing for this race.

But Natchez can’t continue to rely on the leaders of the past to carry us into tomorrow. They simply won’t be around forever.

Instead, our community must begin cultivating new, younger blood.

And that may have to be a community project.

Unfortunately, many in the younger generations place greater value on free time, personal space and lack of commitments than those who’ve gone before.

The younger set may simply not aspire to a role in the public eye.

But that stereotype doesn’t apply to everyone. Natchez just has to find the right man or woman for the job.

Those who have been around the block must begin passing responsibility on to those coming up behind, realizing that praise and encouragement is a must.

The younger generations must be willing to step up, take responsibility and view the city’s success and failures as their own.

Tomorrow’s leader is out there. He or she simply has yet to show himself.

Many voters would tell you they desired — this year, even — to elect the leader of tomorrow.

It wasn’t an option this year, but what we lost in youth we gained in experience on the primary ballot.

It was a fair trade — this time.

With an election season behind us, it’s time to begin making plans for our long-term future.

Where is Natchez going? What do we want to be? Who will we become? How will our history play a role? How will our future be different?

And, who will lead us?

This community has many unanswered questions, but we have four years to answer them.

 

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.