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Goodbye Mr. Mayor

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I first met George Dement during a Bossier City Council meeting in 1999. Bossier Press-Tribune Editor Pat Culverhouse and I were making the rounds to each public body meeting to introduce me as the new publisher.

“Nice to meet you,” Dement said. “Where did you say you live?”

“Minden, sir.”

“When are you moving to Bossier?”

Thus started a great relationship.

DavemugOver the years, “Mr. Mayor” and I had several conversations, usually in a public setting. You could always count on Dement to attend Bossier functions. He would take time to explain to me the importance of our current event, and who the “movers and shakers” were.

When asked to speak at such events, Dement would offer a joke or anecdote to lighten the mood. He would then talk about the greatness of Bossier and how greater days were ahead.

It is easy to see the growth of Bossier under Dement’s leadership. One need only to drive down the Arthur Ray Teague Parkway to the CenturyLink Center to see just a small sample.

However, it was the personal connections Dement made that will stand as his legacy.

Dement’s door was always open, and he was always willing to visit.

Unlike the often adversarial relationship between public servants and the press, Dement seemed to operate in a spirit of cooperation with members of the media. He knew their job and did his best to accommodate, within reason.

One of Dement’s greatest strengths as mayor was his ability to surround himself with capable colleagues, allowing them to operate in their strengths. I had the privilege of watching very complex projects come to fruition from the efforts of his “best and brightest.”

During Dement’s tenure, Bossier City elevated from a “red headed stepchild” to one of the finest cities in the South.

When riverboat gaming entered the market, Bossier City had the sense to invest the newly found revenues in projects that would pay dividends for years to come. Such forward thinking is rare in the realms of government at any level.

Some may say that these strides were not the direct results of efforts by Dement. This may be true, however, success and failure is always attributed to those in leadership. Dement’s leadership paved the way for these successes.

The days following his death, many will say wonderful things about Mayor George Dement. It will boggle the mind the number of lives he touched during his time here on Earth.

From my standpoint, he will always be the man who loved Bossier so much that he reached out to a 30-year-old publisher from Minden and taught him the ropes.

I love Bossier because George Dement loved Bossier.

 

David A. Specht is President of Specht Newspapers, Inc. and Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He can be reached at dspecht@bossierpress.com