Canton officials need to do their homework

Photo by: Kevin Fuller

The town of Canton is at a crossroads — and some people are asleep at the wheel.

Many businesses have picked up and moved on while others are trying to open up shop in the vacant buildings that exist on Main Street — or even out of trucks. It’s going to take tough, attentive and sensitive leadership to hold on to the town’s rich past while spinning the economy forward with progressive thinking. There’s no time to waste.

That’s why it’s surprising that during the recent regularly scheduled mayor and board of aldermen meeting, both Mayor Mike Ray and Vice Mayor Carole Edwards claimed they had no idea a public meeting was being held to gain input on amending an ordinance that would allow the operation of food trucks, under special restrictions, on private property in Canton. They said they were unprepared, as were town residents, and tried to prevent the board from voting, to no avail.

This is despite the fact Edwards, who serves as ex-officio member on the planning board, was present during the planning board’s March 5 meeting where Town Manager Seth Hendler-Voss said a public meeting would be the state-mandated next step on two separate instances during his presentation to the board.

This is also despite several media reports of the public meeting being held. Oh, and also despite the town putting the meeting date up on the town marquee on Park Street for passing motorists and pedestrians to see.

Apparently, neither Edwards nor Ray drove or walked past the sign nor remembered any of the media reports. They were both quoted in our stories leading up to the hearing.

This isn't the first time board action has been postponed because Edwards said she hadn't had the time to study the issue. During the Feb. 12 mayor and board of aldermen meeting, Edwards again claimed she hadn't had time to review the proposed special event policy or subsequent information related to the co-sponsorship policy and draft commercial maintenance ordinance, all of which was eventually passed by the board.

A vote was tabled for two weeks because an elected official did not read the information provided to her a week earlier.

We get it. The mayor and board are all elected officials with full-time day jobs. They have a lot on their plate. But the crux of it is, two elected officials, the two highest serving officials for the town of Canton, claim they had no clue there was a public input session for the idea of allowing food trucks, which is something a lot of people, including the majority of the board who passed the amendment 3-1, think will help the economy prosper (Edwards was the lone nay vote and the mayor only votes in the case of a tie).

It was their job to know. So maybe it’s time the mayor and vice mayor re-evaluate if they are willing to put in the time to keep up with the job of serving the wonderful people of Canton. If they’re unwilling to do that, or at least do their homework, it's something town voters should keep in mind at election time.