A true servant: Commissioner Atlas Price knew that serving his community was an honor
There are few who talk about former commissioner and school board member Atlas Price without mentioning that he loved and served his county.
And on the surface that might not seem like the largest contribution that a person could make -- sitting at board meetings for a good portion of your adult life.
But those who say that did not really understand the kind of public servant Atlas Price was.
He was a reserved man who took in the situation and made decisions by listening first and talking afterward. He treated those who came to him to discuss issues with respect and listened to their point of view. After he had heard the arguments on both sides, he cast his vote -- not for personal gain, not because a certain vote would be easier than another.
When Atlas Price voted, he voted for Wayne County.
And that same sentiment motivated his service over the years. His first priority was making sure that he represented those who elected him and that he acted in the best interest of the county as a whole.
That gave him a perspective that can be somewhat lacking today among those who choose to serve their state, county and country.
Atlas Price understood there was a bigger picture and several different ways to look at any problem. He considered it his job to find the solution that best met the needs of the county he loved.
On a personal level, Atlas Price was a mediator who tried to bring people together. He was as comfortable in casual clothes as he was in a business suit, and was as interested in what his constituents had to say as he was in the views of those who ran state government in Raleigh.
That connection to Wayne County citizens of every socioeconomic level made him the kind of commissioner who could lead from within the flock, rather than requiring a grandstand.
Many of those who talked about Atlas Price's death say that it was a tremendous loss to the county -- not just because of the service he offered to his county, but also because of the example he provided of what a true public servant should be.
There are some who might not really understand the impact this man has had on the development of Wayne County -- and the progress he has helped bring here.
And that would be just fine with Atlas Price.
He did not serve for the glory. He served because it was his responsibility -- and his honor.
And that is the definition of a true public servant.
Published in Editorials on December 2, 2009 10:38 AM