Ron Arnold’s first year as Elwood’s mayor was a harrowing one.
In October, he drew fire after he alleged gender discrimination in the salaries of city employees and vetoed the budget city council had passed. The council overturned Arnold’s veto.
Several months earlier, he suspended popular parks Superintendent Dan Nance and was accused of playing politics. Arnold justified the suspension by pointing to about $11,000 worth of funding entrusted to Nance for cleanup after the annual Glass Festival. Nance did not have receipts to show how the money was spent.
Then, most recently, two of Arnold’s sons, both minors, have been in the news for running afoul of the law. One was implicated in connection with a Nov. 30 fire at the former State Plating building in Elwood. Less than three weeks later, the other son was arrested for battery and possession of alcohol.
What’s next for Arnold? A locust plague?
But the mayor, like Job, will endure. He says the rumors that he will resign are untrue.
And, despite everything, it’s best for Elwood that he keeps on keeping on. After all, he’s only one year into his mayorship, and most new city executives aren’t at their best until the back half of their term.
In retrospect, Arnold had a tall hill to climb in front of him. He’s a Republican in a bastion of Democrats, and he replaced the highly popular Merrill Taylor as Elwood’s mayor. Taylor, citing family concerns, decided to step down at the end of 2011 rather than run for re-election.
Now, it’s mostly important that Arnold push forward. When he ran for election in 2011, Arnold was bolstered by a strong campaign platform that emphasized a five-point plan to return the city — beset by unemployment, vacant housing, struggling schools and a high rate of domestic violence — to vitality.
He scored a victory right away, in January 2012, when council agreed to the creation of a redevelopment commission.
But from there ... well, things went downhill in a hurry.
If Arnold can return the focus of his mayorship to economic development with forward-thinking initiatives, all — or most — of the problems of his first year in office will be forgotten.
Here’s hoping he can pull it off. For his sake, and for the sake of Elwood.