By Martin Couch
In an odd twist to this year's political campaign for the Bryant City Council, alderman Ed Collins has decided to vacate his Ward 2, Position 1 spot to run against alderman Chris Tipton of Ward 2, Position 2.
"We live in a current society we need our representatives to do what's right," Collins said. "That means representing the people and it's not happening. The most local person you can get your hands on is the alderman. In December of 2008, the City Council, which included Chris Tipton, said publicly that they would leave no family behind. They were wrong. There were five families left behind including mine."
Collins is referring to the 2008 floods following the severe weather that hit Saline County at that time and caused flooding in 47 homes in and around the Forest Cove area on Highway 5.[more]
"The owners who were victims of the flood, were left behind and that's not being a true representative," Collins stated. "Last year, the community came together with well over a 100 citizens in an open forum to express their deep concerns with the road to the airport. Positively, without reservation, the citizens have told the City Council, we do not want this road, not now. What does the City Council do? They continue on with it when the citizens told them not to do it.
“I don't know how much more as an elected official we can improve our communication with the citizens. I don't know how much more it's going to take. As an elected official, leaving people behind is not being patriotic and wanting to serve the community, it's about being in the pubic where you are the voice of the people. When you leave families behind you are disfranchising yourself of people who have trusted you. That's why I am running, to break the chain. To be a part of that system that works for the people, not against them."
Collins referenced 6-2 decisions on certain ideas brought up to the City Council for a vote. He was one of the two who voted against and he believes that aldermen are supposed to listen to their constituents.
"Chris has not listened," Collins said. "He hasn't made the right decisions as far as leaving people behind in the representation he has demonstrated in the past two years. As far as I'm concerned, there is more to it. He hasn't demonstrated he has the people's trust when you walk through his neighborhood and look in the eyes of these people and ask them if they are okay and truly mean it.
“To be a flood victim, to go through a thing like my family has been and to be left behind, I don't think it's personal that any elected official took against family members, but they are continuing to cast your vote to spend and spend during a time of recession. That's not being a good steward.
"We live in a democracy and if you haven't fulfilled your job obligations, voters don't feel you need to be rehired for another term, they want someone else," he added. "The city just stopped. We are out of money was the excuse. We are just not out of money, they didn't care to go any further. I think to bring together an organization in the government, we have to look at options, but they don't have any desire to do that. There is no excuse. We could have been in the black the whole year. We already have FTN studies that say water runs downhill, why reinvent the wheel? We're going to start ringing door bells of state representatives and state senators and start calling on those who can help the city."
Collins referred to the Forest Cove entrance project.
"The Forest Cove entrance project was from a citizen of my ward," he said. "We finally got a hold of the right person and it came together. I was getting blocked and I am the one that's an official. That was a private citizen’s doing. It was because of her endeavors that it is on the plans of the state highway department to be fixed. She ought to be running for alderman."
Is there a negative connotation associated with one alderman opposing another? Collins says he's got nothing to lose.
"I don't think Chris has completed what he's needed to do," Collins said. "I have nothing to lose whether I win or lose, I am still ahead, because I am in the city of Bryant. It's a way to say they left people behind and that your are not stepping up to the plate to say five contracts haven't been signed by the City Council and we have a ball park $4 million overspent.
“Chris Tipton asked me if we're going to be professional in this race and I told him I will be as professional as I have been treated by my colleagues on the City Council. I've been told to pay for things myself and they'd pay me back. All I can say is they need to wake up and smell the roses. Things will be a lot better."
Collins currently has a lawsuit filed against the City of Bryant.
"I took on city government in a lawsuit about my property," he said. "Chris was very much a part of it and he knew what was going on. I don't think Tipton is a very good representation of the ward or toward the issues of the ward. He's not being a good steward with the taxpayers money."