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When the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth in 1620, one of the first orders of business was to organize themselves “…into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation … for the general good of the colony …” The Mayflower Compact was the first document of American democracy to establish “government of the people, by the people, for the people."
We have a group of Mayflower people working today dedicated to this concept of how to organize Hardin County “…for the general good of the colony." We are not called Pilgrims but rather the Governance Committee of Hardin County United.
This group of civic-minded volunteers from all across Hardin County has set out on a voyage like the early Pilgrims to consider once again what might be the best system of local governance for all of Hardin County. This does not imply that our current system of governance (Fiscal Court and six incorporated cities) might not be the best. But there has been substantial growth and change in Hardin County since it was first established in 1792. A recent survey of Hardin Countians reflected a strong interest to explore the desirability of consolidated government.
Even the Mayflower Compact was updated after 70 years.
As the Governance Committee begins its work, we decided to view Hardin County as the Pilgrims would, without any jurisdictional lines (erasing all city boundaries) inside the county boundaries. Our challenge is to explore the question, how would 100,000 people living and working as we do (and are projected to grow) best organize ourselves for local governance purposes?
The committee has divided this task into three questions:
1. Who are we? A data-driven analysis of today’s demographics and future trends.
2. What can we be? A research-driven analysis of local governance options.
3. How do we know what we want to be? An analytical exercise of identifying and prioritizing factors/values that we want to achieve through local governance.
A recent academic study suggests that one of the biggest obstacles for an organization to become great is to be good. Hardin County is at least good. Can we be greater by reorganizing our local governance? The committee intends to explore this issue with great care and thought and without a preconceived answer.
The Pilgrims when leaving England intended to colonize in Virginia, not Massachusetts. Where the committee’s recommendation will land is also unknown at this time by design. Our findings and recommendation will be provided to the people of Hardin County for consideration and action of their choosing.
If you would like more information about Hardin County United or the Governance Committee, please go to the website www.hcky.org. Minutes and updates from the committee will be posted on the site.
Ken M. Howard is a circuit judge and chairman of the Governance Committee of Hardin County United, a volunteer organization working to examine local issues of interest and concern.