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home : opinion : columns May 24, 2016

7/24/2013 6:02:00 AM
Reflections on a departing mayor and democracy in Afghanistan

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

John Salem really enjoyed being the mayor. His passion for the job reflected well on the city both in Salem's willingness to show up to just about any event and in his articulate, intelligent demeanor in the performance of his official duties.

With his time at the helm of the Kingman City Council winding down, with no more meetings to chair, honors to bestow, speeches to make, numbers to crunch or ribbons to cut, Salem prepares for the next chapter in his life as his father, perhaps, prepares for his final chapter.

In seven days, Salem will turn over his gavel to Janet Watson, who will assume mayoral duties for the 17 months remaining in his term.

Watson has been a good vice mayor and she certainly has the chops to lead the city. She also has a tough act to follow.

As a reporter, it was easy to appreciate Salem for promptly answering telephone calls or emails. He took the time to clarify issues after meetings and he rarely went off the record.

Citizens can appreciate Salem for a number of reasons. As the face of the city when it comes to the Legislature and various state boards, Salem was well versed on the issues and he proved to be an aggressive advocate in the fight for highway funding and lottery revenue, millions of dollars that lawmakers have kept during the recession rather than return to the cities and towns from which they came.

Staff members who must attend City Council meetings can appreciate Salem for the efficient yet cordial manner in which he conducted meetings.

He was respectful to everyone at the meetings, even when the person at the podium accused Salem and the City Council of high treason against God and country.

It isn't uncommon for elected officials to resign mid-term. Some do it with deep regret because they've engaged in some type of scandalous behavior - usually of the sex or greed variety - and others, such as Salem, do it with deep regret for health reasons.

Salem leaves on July 31 to care for his stricken father in the Phoenix area. That he has chosen to step down from a job he loved more than any other to care for his elderly parents speaks to his character.

He will be missed.


I admit to being a bit apprehensive on July 13 as I drove downtown to interview Sgt. Jordan Maynard, the Kingman-raised Marine who lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan.

His story is inspirational. His sacrifice for his country is deeply irreparable. His attitude of gratitude is a marvel to behold.

During the interview, as we paused to take measure of what was said, I asked Jordan about the Afghan Uniformed Police who participated with the Marines in constant patrols.

The AUP, and members of the Afghan National Army, have been known to attack troops. More often, they themselves are the targets of suicide bombers. Earlier this month, 12 AUPs were killed in such a fashion. The AUP also has a reputation of being less than capable.

Jordan told me his platoon never had any trouble with the AUP, but with the diplomacy of someone doing his best to be kind, he commented thusly on their competence:

"The AUP, well, they're in training. They're in constant training. Their training kind of never ends."

He offered a mixed opinion of the Afghan National Army, which will take over for the U.S. and coalition allies one day. His comments, if accurate, don't bode well for the future stability of the country.

"They're not as bad as the AUP," said Jordan. "They're braver ... but they are corrupt. Super corrupt."

There is nothing in the record to suggest Maynard's assessment isn't spot on. Afghanistan is a country of tribes, and loyalties lie with the tribe, not with the government in Kabul. The concept of national unity is not one Afghans embrace.

We can try to teach them democracy, but just like the Marines and the AUP, expect the training to be constant.

Expect the training to kind of never end.

Related Stories:
• Kingman Marine builds a new life after suffering horrific war wounds
• John Salem's sad farewell
• Kingman's mayor will step down early, citing family, job concerns

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

Gee it sounds like someone from the miner finally agrees that these ignorant wars where a waste of money and lives and we should have treated 911 like the crime that it was rather than start wars against countries who had nothing to do with it. Thanks McMurdo you are doing a better job the longer your here. Keep up the good work.

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