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"Breaking Barriers: How Mayor Sandra Vincent Is Leading McDonough with Inclusivity and Unity"

written by Chilton Stewart

“We have become contagious. Everyone wants to be in the city”says Mayor Sandra Vincent. Mayor Vincent is a political wizard who is passionate about the development of the city McDonough GA. She is a visionary leader interested in making her community better while leading them into the future.

A conversation with her can give you a vision of the founding fathers of this nation and how they built the constitution. Without a bit of hesitation she takes her job as the Mayor of McDonough just as seriously because she knows that she is making not just a city of  McDonough for today, but the McDonough of the future.

“We are looking forward to 2024 and beyond to seeing what McDonough really can become once we open up these processes.”

Mayor Vincent loves the history and people of McDonough even though the history of the McDonough may not resemble her or other people. She loves the rich history and nuances that make McDonough..well McDonough.

“We have been reflecting on the history of McDonough. We’ve had so many amazing partners like the genealogical society that did both a tour of the cemetery, also an open house. We’ve had the women’s club of McDonough and several organizations to just share McDonough’s history. That was the reflection part to really look at where we’ve been and look towards where we’re going. As a theme we adopted “reflection forward” for our comprehensive plan. We wrote this year our comprehensive plan update. That was a very community engaging project. We made sure that we had senior citizens, diverse groups of individuals. We included folks from the Caribbean association from the school board, from the senior center. We really tried hard to make sure that we had a great cross section of McDonough citizens. So that is the whole reflection forward piece.”

As a transformative and transparent leader Mayor Vincent is easy going, open and honest about her plans for McDonough. She speaks with the confidence of a woman who has nothing to hide because she has no hidden agenda, just an undying love for her city and the heights she believes it can reach.  

“A comprehensive plan is basically your land use plan with other elements included that create a comprehensive plan. So it sets forth how we’re going to grow. What our element of focus will be. Who will be involved? How much money it's going to cost us. Because what we do is take that document and create a work plan.” She continues 

“When you are growing rapidly. If you can metaphorically think about a house that you are building on. From. Civil engineering standpoint you’ve got to have the footprint and the foundation to do that development. I felt strongly that because we were moving so fast. That our codes weren’t in place. That we were not following the governance model that we should be as a city. And I felt that anybody coming who lacked the experience that we needed would love McDonough further back. So the vision that I got was to run off of a good governance platform. There are 9 pillars to that platform and that platform has been integrated with all of the ideas of our council members and we have used those nine elements in everything we’ve developed throughout this year.”

She takes transparent governance to heart as it is a major guiding principle to her leadership style. “Transparency is one of those nine pillars. Primarily in financial exchanges. Deals with the fact that we are creating a reconciliation policy that didn’t exist when I came in. It's important to have policies and procedures in place in anything and everything you do. What that means if Game Changers came in and Game Changers had the charge of keeping things moving forward then there’s a document that they can go to  that tells them not only what the governmental policy is but it also tells them step by step what they need to do when they are operating the affairs of the city. That did not exist when I came in.” 

She also explains how big the concept of diversity and inclusion is in her administration. “One of the things that we realized to be very important in a diverse Community is to make sure that equity and inclusion was a part of that plan, to make sure health was a part of that plan. These are elements that you don’t normally see but in McDonough we are really approaching everything that we do from a very progressive standpoint meaning that we are thinking futuristically.

Mayor Vincent often refers to “the nine pillars” of effective government as a guiding principle for her administration. “One of the elements of the nine pillars is citizen engagement. So one of the things that we derived from our comprehensive plan was that citizens are very interested in quality of life and what our parks look like, what they are doing.

We are in a joint plan service delivery strategy with Henry County. The agreement is that the city would be responsible for the passive parks and the county is responsible for those elements where there is a sports league or some other type of recreational piece involved. So what we’ve seen is that our citizens have placed a bigger demand on us. Saying we don’t want you wanting for the county. This is broken we want it fixed or this looks bad we want it fixed. So under our McDonough beautiful initiative I am very proud. It's one of the initiatives I started when I was on the council. We have been able to resurrect that.``

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The theme of the nine pillars is crucial to understanding a person and style of governance focused on doing the most good possible in the amount of time she is allotted to serve. However she is also quick to remind people that she isn’t a “Johnny come lately” to being a Mayor or serving the city of McDonough for that matter. “Beyond being Mayor, I think this is the important thing for people to remember. I sat on that bench for 16 years. And during that time I was a city councilman for all people. And so that period really laid the foundation and helped me to garner the experience, the respect that I need in order to even pursue the office of Mayor.“

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If we were to look at Mayor Vincent’s formula for success it is simple. In this day and age of political tribalism. She believes in hearing all sides of an issue and listening to as many diverse voices as possible. “Come together, that’s the most important thing. Because we all have a vision to do great things for the city but it's sort of like an orange, when you dissect it. You’ve peelings, you’ve got zest, you’ve got the seeds, you’ve got the juice, you’ve got the pulp. You’ve got all of these components. But if you can imagine what I need may be only the seed, but  what you need is the actual juice. So when we’re coming together to see who is the party that can provide what? Then that can only happen when we have these conversations. 

The other thing that  I want folks to understand is that the faith community in particular historically and also in the present day is very much needed in government. We have so many issues that we’re faced with. The crisis of homelessness  you’ve got opioid addiction and other addictions. So in order for the government to do what the government is chartered to do. We need a partner that is chartered to do what we’re not.”

Indeed the city of McDonough’s future is bright and in good hands thanks to Mayor Vincent.

Thank You City of McDonough: As We Reflect Forward Celebrating 200 Years As A City

Get Your Copy of Game Changers Magazine Collectors Edition featuring Mayor Sandra Vincent: Reflection Forward

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