Blankenship already cutting … from himself

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2007

It hasn’t taken long for Rich Blankenship to have an impact as Ironton’s new mayor.

He’s still getting settled in, learning the ropes a bit, getting acquainted with city employees and trying to figure out how to do his job the best he can.

The former city councilman won the election against four competitors on Nov. 6. Less than six weeks later, he decided to do something that isn’t often seen in politics.

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He took money out of his own pocket.

Besides the mayor’s salary, the city’s elected city leader also receives a $100-a-month stipend for gasoline. It’s a curious addition in the first place, but Blankenship decided it was money he didn’t really deserve.

And I like that.

After all, people every day go to work and have to put fuel in their cars to get there. The citizens of Ironton don’t get any monthly gasoline bonuses from employers, and Blankenship decided he wasn’t entitled to one either.

So, he gave it back.

To you.

That small gesture should be appreciated. Blankenship already has access to a city vehicle if he needs it and he thought the general fund was a more deserving spot for those funds.

But, there’s more.

The new mayor did more than just forfeit the gas money.

Each January the mayor is afforded a slight raise because the charter has the position’s salary tied to the municipal judge’s salary, which is set by the state.

Not for Blankenship.

The newcomer decided he had not served the people of Ironton long enough to merit a raise.

By law he was certainly entitled to the new raise, but he was having nothing to do with it. He said he wanted to earn the raise with his work and that no one deserved a raise after two months on the job, not even a mayor.

Now, a skeptic might say Blankenship’s financial sacrifices were done perhaps to gain favor with co-workers and to score a few political points.

Maybe that was part of it, but the bottom line is the city has a few more dollars to operate on because they don’t show up in Rich Blankenship’s checkbook.

It’s far too early to know what kind of mayor Blankenship will be.

His personal contributions will have no bearing on how he is viewed if he doesn’t deliver the leadership he promised.

Working with city council, cleaning up dilapidated properties and tapping into all the city’s resources will be some of the areas where he will be judged.

But at the very least, Ironton citizens can know their new mayor has already made a personal sacrifice that is based on fair principles.

That in itself says a lot about Rich Blankenship. And that in itself shows he’s off to a good start.

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or by e-mail at