Ridding the political garden of stubborn crabgrass weeds can be challenging. The solution requires recognition of the problem and continual vigilance once identified. You must apply preventative measures and fertilize, replant with good grass, water and watch over the process until the garden is full, green and beautifully lush again.

This will be the task at hand now facing our community if we want to prosper in the future. Let’s break down what will be needed as we regrow our community.

First and most important, we must attract candidates with impeccable character who have a vision and desire to improve the quality of life for all citizens, candidates who are not wrapped up in party politics or the self-interest of a few, focused on what is the best interests of the entire community.

These are our gardeners, clearly absent out-sized egos and self-importance. They will provide proper oversight, watching and protecting our community as new opportunities begin growing, providing living wages, promoting a safe family environment and protecting the quality of life we all desire. Once the political partisan crabgrass is eradicated, more qualified candidates will be encouraged to come forward and step up.

Once new visionary candidates begin to engage, they will move quickly to evaluate and identify what businesses can best flourish in our community in the years to come.

The next step will be to assess if our soil can support and attract these businesses to our community. We can help achieve this by establishing zones of prosperous opportunity for growing businesses. We will fertilize these areas by developing a benefits list highlighting the advantages of planting a business in our community. Our newly elected gardeners will be the driving force in managing this process.

The crabgrass metaphor is illustrative of the past eight years of the leadership of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority and council. None of the positive steps outlined above have been implemented.

Just drive around and look at the number of empty spaces in the shopping areas of Main Street. Look at the condition of many of the buildings that need repair or are dilapidated eyesores. Imagine what could have been done with the $21 million dollars (and rising) that the EDA misused and wasted over the last eight years, absent effective oversight by town and county leadership.

On an interesting note, several years ago the Mayor’s Vision Committee met and developed an eight-point Front Royal Business Plan for Economic Growth to bring affluence to our community. Unfortunately, the elected leadership neither embraced nor possessed the vision to move on the plan and things continued to slowly deteriorate – status quo.

I personally introduced the eight-point business plan to the council several months ago, hoping it would get the support needed to move forward. At this time, I do not feel confident that most of the current elected or appointed members of the council leadership are sufficiently focused or concerned enough to grab and run with this plan for our future.

It’s time to find new community gardeners to oversee the economic workings of our community. We are looking for a few good visionaries to come forward and help us build and grow our future.

Fern Vazquez is a Front Royal resident.