Valdosta City Council approves civility resolution for city leaders

Valdosta City Council approves civility resolution for city leaders
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:03 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The recent debt ceiling compromise gave hope to many that civility is making a comeback in government.

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy complimented each other afterward. That’s a far cry from scenes during recent State of the Union addresses where presidents were openly disrespected.

Civility has been an issue at the local level as well. In Valdosta, leaders are making a push for politeness on the city council.

In the past two months, 75 Georgia cities have been named “City of Civility” cities by the Georgia Municipal Association. City leaders say with Valdosta recently receiving a new city manager, they figured this would be a great time to adopt such a resolution.

“It fosters that agreement between the mayor and council to role model the behaviors that they would want employees and citizens to model,” Catherine Ammons, Valdosta assistant city manager, said. “Even though you disagree, you can still disagree with respect and civility.”

Research shows that civility is declining, not just in government, but in society in general. A 2019 survey shows that 93% of Americans believe that incivility is a problem.

“It’s needed across all cities and states,” Ammons said. “Whether that’s just the political climate or that’s individuals disagreeing on many different subjects. I think it’s always important to remind people that respect should always be number one.”

All seven members of Valdosta City Council voted to approve the initiative to ensure they are always setting the right example and leading with respect.

“I think it’s very important. It just shows our citizens that we can conduct ourselves as professionals. Even when we don’t agree, we can still do it in a civil manner,” Eric Howard, councilman for District 4 and member of the mayor’s Pro Team, said.

Leaders in Valdosta say they are taking the civility pledge — to conduct themselves at all times with civility and courtesy to each other to continue to improve the city for their residents.

“Throughout Georgia, we all are on the same page with this. We’re all thinking the same way, with the same mindset, and the same understanding of how we should conduct ourselves when we’re in a meeting,” Valdosta District 6 Councilman Andy Gibbs said. “We’re here to serve. We’re here to work together.”