UP NOLAN CREEK: A public servant
Monday, 14 January 2013 by Wayne Carpenter
These days politicians from city hall to the White House are routinely skewered by learned letter writers, radio announcers, and television pundits for all manner of sins and shortcomings, some very real, and some imagined. The approval rating of a president rarely exceeds fifty percent, and the approval rating of Congress usually hovers embarrassingly down in the low teens. There is no indication that either will improve in the near future. Given this climate and the many economic and social challenges we face in our nation, some would question why anyone would devote their time and energy to public service or any public office. Given what I've read in the letters to the editor about Belton city council members, it appears we are all there for the purposes of helping out our cronies, gaining notoriety, and becoming wealthy on the dollar a year we receive for serving as a council member. I can't tell you what I really feel about this attitude, which I feel is not shared by the majority, but I will tell you this, it is not the reality of the situation. Many devoted citizens at all levels give not only their time but a piece of their heart in service to their community, not for personal gain, but to serve the best interests of their fellow citizens.
One early spring evening, about fifteen years ago, after a long day at school, I had just sat down to watch the news when the doorbell rang. A gentleman I had met earlier when his daughter was a student at Leon Heights Elementary was at our door. He asked if I had a few minutes to talk, and I invited him in. He launched into a detailed explanation of how during his service on the city parks board he had become aware of major needs our city had in providing adequate fields and proper lighting for the growing numbers of children playing sports. He didn't berate anyone for past failures, his entire focus was on what we could do as a city to work together to meet the needs of our kids. That was my first extended conversation with Clifton Peters about city government. Fortunately for all of us, not my last. Clif was willing to devote more of his time making difference by serving in a greater role, and he soon ran for city council. Since 2000, he has served with distinction. The old cliche, "solid as a rock" is a much overused one, but in this case, it is the only phrase that truly fits Clif's performance as a member of the council. Some council members, and I am guilty, sometimes talk a tad more than necessary during our meetings. Mr. Peters doesn't do this. Those who attend council meetings regularly will attest that he rarely speaks, but when he does everyone listens attentively because he has something truly important to say. Regardless of differing points of view on individual items, there is never a doubt that Clif has thought about the issue and will vote based on what he believes is best for our city. Over the years, he has served on several special committees and sat through more city budget meetings than anyone should ever have to endure. While Clif once worried about lighting on the ball fields, we now tease him he is the only council member in history of Belton who actually drives around in the evenings and reports burned out streetlights to city hall so they can be replaced in a timely fashion. That's dedication!
Sadly, Clifton Peters is stepping down from the council after being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The Belton City Council and the citizens of this community will sorely miss his dedication to the public good of all Beltonians. When Lou Gehrig retired at Yankee Stadium, he said he felt like "the luckiest man in the world" for being part of something greater than himself. In my opinion, the City of Belton has been the luckiest city around for having had Clifton Peters and the gift of public service he has given to our community. Leadership isn't measured in money or newspaper clippings, it is measured in sincerity and integrity....thanks Clif.