Transparency in local government sure is refreshing.
It's been awhile since we've seen it this good.
Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson, who took office about six months ago, welcomed in the new year facing a difficult situation that involved a fight between two youth hockey players in a locker room at the city ice arena.
But this isn't about what happened with those kids or the ramifications that will follow.
This is about avoiding secrecy. This is about standing up and being open and honest. This is about being a strong city leader.
A call to Everson last week from The Daily Republic to discuss the incident first went to voicemail. But it wasn't long before the mayor returned the call. He even knew the requested topic of conversation prior to the first question.
The discussion with Everson included many topics and feelings about the incident. But what was most impressive is he offered up information that so many government board and commission members would never have revealed.
Being as honest as he could, Everson actually talked about an executive session.
Executive sessions, or closed-door meetings, in South Dakota are too often treated like an unspeakable act, only for those who were involved in the secret discussion to know what was talked about. But the law does not force public officials to keep quiet about the discussion.
On Dec. 23, Mitchell authorities issued a release after they responded to the ice arena a couple days earlier. While there likely were some whispers throughout town from those who knew what happened, it was Everson who spoke up and made sure the citizens of Mitchell were aware all was being handled.
He explained that he and the City Council gathered to devise a plan on how to handle an incident that certainly cast a black mark on the community.
Based off so many past experiences, it wouldn't have surprised us to hear a mayor tell us he wouldn't talk about something based off an executive session meeting or a personnel matter.
It's fair for Mitchell residents to expect accountability to ensure an incident like this doesn't arise again. And kudos to Mitchell's mayor for being open and transparent and saying the city's leaders are monitoring the situation and considering changes that need to be made in its wake.
If only all public officials knew how to interpret open-meeting laws.
Everson still has 30 months left in his term as mayor, and this is a sign of quality leadership for our community. Let's hope this transparency continues.
We recognize not all situations allow for complete openness and transparency. We're not asking for that. What's important to note here, though, is Everson's up-front, honest approach, rather than hiding behind closed doors.
If only more public officials could act the same way, then we'd have better local governments.