Speaking to reporters about his starting lineup for a coming game, the longtime gridiron mentor offered in his familiar drawl, “We’re gonna dance with who brung us.”
Though not grammatically eloquent, his point was well taken. He was sticking with the players who had contributed to the team’s success leading up to the big contest. Phrased another way, he was remaining loyal to those who had stepped up in the early going in response to his call for hard work on and off the field.
In similar fashion, those who contributed 1,827 ideas to Mayor Tom Rowland’s “What’s in a Name?” slogan contest were responding to a municipal call for assistance. An idea was handed to the community. It was blessed by MainStreet Cleveland. It was given the nod by the City Council. Even a group of area business owners and individuals pooled resources to create a $1,000 cash prize to the person whose original suggestion was selected by the Council.
And the people spoke — some 1,827 times.
The subsequent two finalists, as pared down by the panel of judges, included “Hometown Feel, Global Appeal,” which was derived from another suggestion, and “The City With Spirit.”
Without disclosing the identities of the slogan creators, panel chairperson Melissa Woody, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce’s Convention & Visitors Bureau, presented the pair of nicknames in a public gathering on Jan. 9. Council members debated the nominations, but tabled the issue until Jan. 23.
In the absence of Mayor Rowland, who could not attend the follow-up gathering, Council members revisited the names but failed again to reach a decision. Most agreed they had received little public response since the names’ unveiling, but Councilman David May acknowledged the feedback he had received had been predominately negative. For this reason, he conceded he would have difficulty supporting either suggestion.
Returning to the question again Monday, the Council selected “The City With Spirit,” but Councilmen May and Charlie McKenzie — as is their right — voted against the suggestion. It was supported by Councilmen Dale Hughes, George Poe, Bill Estes and Richard Banks, as well as Vice Mayor Avery Johnson.
Unanimous votes on the Council are not always a given. Too many would even be considered unhealthy. Yet this particular split vote, coming after suggestions that an untold number of Cleveland constituents did not like either nickname, could dampen the intended impact of the slogan contest.
It should not. Detractors have a right to believe as they wish. Councilmen are ethically bound to vote their convictions, especially when representing what they feel is the voice of their constituents.
But in our opinion, “The City With Spirit” is an appropriate nickname for our Cleveland hometown. It says plenty about our community and those who proudly call it their home.
One need look only as far as April 27, 2011 to understand. “The City With Spirit” says much about our community. Our residents have a wonderful work spirit. We exude a welcoming spirit. We embrace a godly spirit. And for the past nine months, our hometown has showcased a “can-do” spirit.
“Hometown Feel, Global Appeal” said a lot. “The City With Spirit” said even more.
We applaud Council members for their selection. We thank the judges for their months of hard work.
We now await disclosure of the identity of the slogan’s creator so that we may thank him or her for articulating what lies deep within the heart of Cleveland and Bradley County.
“The City With Spirit” has a nice ring. Its welcomed voice will say much about who we are and why for years to come.