Editorial: Thunder Valley Rally a classic case of failed leadership

If ever there was a need for strong leadership in the Verde Valley, Thunder Valley Rally could surely use it.

TVR was a divisive issue in Cottonwood one year ago.

Today, it’s even more divisive, especially in Old Town. In fact, it’s turned a little ugly. Some folks in Old Town have exhibited behavior for which they should be embarrassed, if not ashamed.

On several levels, Cottonwood’s leadership has let us down on Thunder Valley Rally. Both the current city council, especially the mayor, as well as some city staff members are extremely defensive when it comes to criticism about Thunder Valley Rally. They’ve failed the test of giving fair weight to those whose opinion differs from theirs.

They have failed to heal the wounds that first surfaced a year ago. Instead, they let them fester into an ugly boil.

Likewise, some members of the Thunder Valley Rally Committee are dismissive, defensive and even rude to those who oppose the event. The complaints heard this year mirror the ones voiced last year. Those complaints obviously are not being addressed. Those making them do not feel like they are being heard, or respected.

To a lesser degree, some of the blame for this mess lies with the Old Town merchants. They too have had a full year to come together on this issue – preferably through the Old Town Association – and collectively agree on what’s best for the overall good of Cottonwood vs. what’s best for them individually.

Everyone is guilty to varying degrees for letting this dispute get out of hand and allowed an us-against-them mentality to poison Old Town.

So where do we go now?

As heated and divisive as this issue has become, it would be best to just let it sit for a while. A cooling-off period is in order. We have some new members of the City Council with a new mayor coming into office after the first of the year. Let’s pass the baton to them on this contentious issue. Let’s hope for better leadership than that provided over the past year.

In the meantime, the TVR Committee needs to reach out to those who oppose this event and let them know their opinions are important and their sentiment is valid.

Likewise, the leadership of the Old Town Association needs to heal the bitter feelings that exist over this issue and find a collective voice for the downtown district.

At every level, Thunder Valley Rally is begging for strong, fair, reasonable, level-headed leadership.

If this is an event worth fighting for, then we need reasonable people leading the fight; people who will give fair weight to those on the opposing side and not dismiss them.

But, if it is something we are only going to fight over, it’s time to scrap Thunder Valley Rally and hope for better leadership in Cottonwood and Old Town in the coming years.

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