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Mayor Tom Jones: Man of vision and love for his hometown of LintonPosted Sunday, March 6, 2011, at 5:09 PM
Mayor Tom Jones, at left, bowing his head in prayer during a tree planting in 2008 at Humphrey Park that served as a symbolic spiritual reminder of the military service -- current and past -- that Greene Countians have given to their community and nation. He's joined hands with Sgt. Sgt. J.D. Wilson from the Indiana National Guard Armory in Linton and Deborah Lynn with the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District is at right. (Photo by Nick Schneider)
This is one of those days when the words that are surfacing to my keyboard seem to come up short, incomplete, lacking in exactly what I want to convey.
News of the passing of Linton Mayor Tom Jones on Thursday took us all by surprise and left us shocked.
That's a given.
Tom Jones in many ways was the face and hope of the city of Linton.
He's been described by people who knew him well as a driven-man, who was probably impatient and frustrated with the waiting game prevalent in governmental roles.
He's also been called a visionary, a guy who had big futuristic ideas that at times were not readily accepted or embraced by his governing colleagues.
But he looked down the road -- many years and many miles ahead.
Tom was likable and was always proud to tell me he was a Jeffersonian Democrat -- someone who has a political philosophy supporting a federal government with greatly constrained powers and advocating a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
He explained to me that a Jeffersonian philosophy also calls for state and local governments to safeguard the rights and property of citizens.
That made this proud Republican smile a bit every time, because when you get right down to it, that's pretty much the political corner I'm in.
You know, that's exactly what Tom tried to do in his seven plus years in the mayor's office.
To be really honest, you wouldn't find a person -- elected or not -- who had more passion and devout love for his community and family than Tom Jones.
Tom was a Christian and proud patriot, who loved his country and supported the local Army National Guard unit in many behind the scenes ways that he wanted to keep private during both recent deployments to the Middle East region.
He was there when the troops left town and he was there smiling and thankful when the Guardsmen returned back to Linton safe and sound.
I've known Tom on a professional level through my jobs -- both here at the Greene County Daily World and previously when I was on the staff of the former Bloomfield Evening World for more than 20 years.
I met him first on the golf course, where his prowess is well known as a six-time champion of the Greene County Open.
When he decided to run and take on the late Jimmie K. Wright for mayor, Tom and I talked and you could see the bubbling of enthusiasm and drive this guy possessed.
It was clear he was going to be a formidable candidate and that proved correct with Jones pulling off one of the biggest upsets in local political history -- unseating the 20-year veteran mayor in a landslide victory.
Over the years, Tom has had some memorable things to say about the job of a mayor that are worth repeating for those who will be seeking to fill his role in the future.
During his first campaign in 2003, Tom said. "A mayor should possess human compassion, leadership qualities, interpersonal and organizational skills, negotiating ability, honesty and integrity, and the ability to work with and through others to efficiently and effectively manage the city. Most of all, a mayor should be committed to the needs of the residents he represents."
Last year when Tom made the surprising decision and announcement not to seek re-election to a third term, again he has some wise words for those who follow.
"I'm not running again. This will be the last year. I will enjoy it and move forward ... I hope people will understand some of the things we do. I think all along we've done a really good job. It's taken a whole lot more people than me," he told a monthly gathering of the Linton-Stockton Chamber "The city has struggled with change. I've been trying to bring new thoughts and ideas to the community, some have succeeded and some have failed. A community that doesn't change dies. Our leaders need to think outside the box in order to have jobs, growth and opportunity."
That would appear to be good advice and a charge to whomever is the next Linton mayor.
They need to keep Linton first when planning and decision-making.
There is still plenty of work to do, but Tom laid the ground work for good things to happen in the city he loved.
Tom followed what most considered a true political icon into the mayor's office and did a remarkable job in less than two terms and himself became an icon.
The next mayor has some big shoes to fill.
Head the words of your former mayor who once said, "If you can unite your city by building it from the citizens, property owners, business owners, parks systems, as well as many other aspects that make it attractive, then the rest will fall into place."
Mr. Mayor as we bid you farewell, remember those who leave us this great heritage and remembrances of joy and good times are not dead.
They are still alive in our hearts, in the memories of the days of happiness we knew and in the many dreams we shared.
May you rest in peace.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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