BERT REEVES: No room for the doctrine of ‘maybe’ in governing

The following is my Letter to the Editor in regard to the race for Cobb County Commission.

Governing is hard. In my first term in the state House, I have learned this firsthand. Governing requires boldness and, perhaps most importantly, decisiveness. Governing does not linger in the doctrine of “maybe.” Big decisions are rarely simple and are never black and white, despite the moral certainty of political talking heads. Ultimately, this over-simplification gives way to rhetoric, false narratives, and lies that become headlines.

Governing is not about “maybe.” When it comes time to vote, I have two buttons on my desk, “yes” and “no.” I have labored over some votes; I have lost sleep over some votes. I may not like everything in a bill, but nonetheless, I have to use my best judgment to choose between the green and red buttons. There is not a yellow “maybe” button. In order to govern, I cannot pick and choose; I must take it or leave it.

The Atlanta Braves moving to Cobb County was never a “maybe” scenario. While data suggests the majority of our citizens approve of this decision, a false narrative has surfaced and been extensively promoted that commissioners could have voted “maybe” and submitted the issue to a county referendum. In reality, the decision came down to “yes” or “no” for our elected county leaders. To insist on a referendum was to vote “no.” It either came the way it did, or not at all. Within those facts, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but let’s keep the discussion honest and away from the false narrative. Suggesting that it was possible to vote on this deal simply because a referendum was held on a parks bond (or other matters) is not relevant.

I believe that just a few years from now, we will look back and see that this was the boldest and most prosperous opportunity for Cobb County in 50 years. This “yes” decision by Chairman Tim Lee and Commissioners Bob Ott, JoAnn Birrell and Helen Goreham stands to produce unprecedented economic development. Less than a year before the first pitch, we are already seeing this economic growth: the tax digest is up, property tax rates are down and school revenue has increased, all as projected. Based on this evidence, we have every reason to believe this growth will continue, fulfilling the prediction that the increase in revenues will pay for the county’s costs and add additional money to county coffers beyond that. For this to happen, the county had to vote “yes” to invest.

Candidates for office should be evaluated by the “yes or no” doctrine. We cannot afford to elect the philosophy of “maybe” to lead Cobb County. Playing both sides of the fence is “maybe.” Mike Boyce has straddled the fence on the most important issue of his campaign. I cannot reconcile how he can campaign against the “yes” decision (as the central issue of his campaign) while refusing to say that he would have voted “no.” Boyce should not get a pass on this. Voters should demand that a candidate for the most powerful post in the county take a stand on the biggest issue of the campaign.

I want a chairman who leads definitively, decisively and boldly. Boyce does not seem to offer this. Perhaps no greater example of Boyce’s waffling than his own recent words. When the completely fabricated story that Cobb was raising taxes to pay for parks recently went viral, even the harshest critics of Chairman Lee acknowledged it was false. But not Boyce, who said some of his friends say it’s true and some friends say it isn’t and he always agrees with his friends. Again, Boyce is governing in the twilight of “maybe,” which is not leadership. The truth is, Boyce has seized on a political issue, fueled by a false narrative, and is attempting to ride its coattails all the way to election.

There is one obvious conclusion to draw from Boyce’s irreconcilable and inconsistent campaign message: If elected, Mike Boyce is setting himself up to pull an about face and embrace with open arms the success, excitement and prosperity that the Atlanta Braves are bringing to Cobb. If Boyce wins, my guess is that he will probably not look back to thank Chairman Lee, who was the one who actually had to “govern” to secure the Braves. We deserve better. Chairman Lee understands governing, and has demonstrated a willingness to make big decisions for the best interests of Cobb’s future. I trust Tim Lee to continue to lead Cobb County.