There’s nothing better than clearing the air

Published 7:58 am Saturday, December 3, 2005

By Staff
Sometimes a good air-clearing session is just what things need.
Niles City Council had a good one Monday night, when issues festering under the surface for years between councilmembers Dan Vanden Heede and Scott Clark finally erupted.
Usually those sessions are ultimately healthy, and I'm convinced that's what this one will turn out to be.
Vanden Heede and Clark are very different individuals in almost every way.
Vanden Heede is thoughtful and calculating. Clark is bold and brazen. Clark, a lifelong entrepreneur, is very business savvy. Vanden Heede, a career educator, takes a more global perspective when deciding issues.
If you were to put stereotypical labels on them, Vanden Heede fits the mold of the long-haired hippy. In turn, Clark would be the Young Republican - minus the coat and tie. Those two types don't easily mix.
However, despite their obvious differences, the two share some important similarities which will in the end allow them to work together again for the benefit of the city.
As city councils go, Niles' is a capable and stable one, thanks in no small part to a very strong city administration. All on the council are earnest and committed. That said, there's no doubt that the two who take the lead roles on issues most often are Clark and Vanden Heede.
Both are very intelligent and analytical. Typically, it's Clark or Vanden Heede who pose questions about issues on the council. Neither are likely to accept answers like, "That's the way we've always done things." They are the most strident champions of city causes they each determine to be important.
They are the ones who will poke and prod until they find a way to get things done.
For Vanden Heede, his service on the city council is almost sacred: He's living what he's teaching his students.
For Clark, his service on the city council is an opportunity to be a part of forging a government that works the way he thinks government should work - as an entity whose sole purpose is to enhance the lives of all of its residents.
Their most important similarity is this one: They truly love this city. Both of them do. It's their home. They want what's best for it - and I think though grudgingly they would acknowledge that's the other's goal, too.
I'm sure both are still smarting over Monday night. It wasn't pleasant for either. Neither was it pleasant to witness. But it's something that needed to happen. Kudos to Mayor Mike McCauslin for knowing that and deciding their differences and issues with each other needed to be aired in public, in full view of the citizens they represent.
Scott Clark and Dan Vanden Heede are reasonable people. They understand how important it is for them to look past their differences now and find a way to work together. We need them both.
Their love of this city and its people will win out in the end and our city council will be stronger for it.