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Elect Helm as mayor of Damascus

Outlook Endorsement

If you start from a basic assumption that the city of Damascus is sticking around for the forseeable future, then it doesn’t take long to arrive at one very simple conclusion: Something has to change in order for the city government to realize real progress on, well, just about anything.

Already, Mayor Steve Spinnett’s decision against seeking re-election is one leap forward in the right direction. His presence — for good or bad — is a lightning rod for unresolveable polarizing conflict.

With Spinnett stepping down — along with two city councilors (Andrew Jackman and Randy Shannon) — the people of Damascus hold in their grasp a golden opportunity to reshape their municipal government.

This community will elect a new mayor and two new city councilors, who will join those whose offices are not up for re-election. Those who are elected will either help balance the council or push it in the direction that has become all too familiar.

To achieve that balance, we recommend the election of Diana Helm for mayor. And for council seats, we recommend votes for David Hadley (Position 3) and Nancy Robbins Carpenter (Position 4).

In the race for mayor, Helm faces opposition from City Councilor Bill Wehr. In fairness, it should be noted that Wehr is not cut from the same cloth as Spinnett, although he’s been a strong ally and defender of the departing mayor. Wehr would lead with greater dignity and respect for his fellow councilors, but he would continue on the same path as Mayor Spinnett. That’s the direction that led to lawsuits against the citizenry, and state intervention on behalf of Damascus citizens.

The election of Helm, Hadley and Robbins Carpenter offers Damascus residents a way out of the mess created by Spinnett and his cohorts.

Helm is a former member of the Damascus City Council who has returned with a mission to bring civility to city government. She says her first action as mayor would be to stop the lawsuits against city residents who are pursuing deannexation.

Helm was among those who testified before the House and Senate in favor of HB 4029, the state law that gives landowners on the outer edge of Damascus the right to deannex. And she is unapologetic in revealing she voted in favor of disincorporation. But she, like many others, describes that vote as a protest, or a “throwing in of the towel” against a dysfunctional city government. That’s an awkward position for someone who wants to be mayor.

But as mayor, Helm would let the people of Damascus decide the fate of the city government. She would not let her personal agenda override the will of the people. And mostly, she would bring an end to the hostility against the very people the council serves.

Of the council candidates in this race, Hadley and Robbins Carpenter are more closely aligned with Helm. So their election will help move the Damascus City Council in a more congenial direction.

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