With the passing of John Moser, former Mayor of Stephenville (1998-2004), we have lost one of the finest public servants I have ever had the privilege to work with. When thinking of Mayor Moser, the first word to come to mind is “respect,” and not just the respect he inspired from his associates, but also the respect with which he treated his city council colleagues and the public to which he was so devoted.
It was my great good fortune that John Moser was mayor when I was first elected to the council in 2000. He was unfailingly patient and effective in helping me adjust to my new role, explaining the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure, the issues Stephenville faced at the time, and the legal constraints within which the council had to function.
Mayor Moser showed respect for the council in how he presided over its meetings, exercising a firm but friendly hand in guiding it through its agenda, and graciously accepting the outcomes of council votes, even if he did not always agree with them. He was scrupulously fair in ensuring that all council members, as well as city employees and citizens in attendance, had the chance to express their views and otherwise participate in council deliberations. Nobody who wished to do so was every shut out or put down. Nobody was ever criticized for what he or she said or how he or she voted. Mayor Moser respected everyone, as well as the procedures by which they could be involved in democratic decision making. He thereby prevented the city council from dissolving into the sort of bickering and bitterness which less mature meeting participants can sometimes provoke, and which can destroy council effectiveness if they succeed in their own bullying ways. To the contrary, he and those who followed his example enabled the council to address issues with the efficiency, effectiveness and democracy which best served the people of Stephenville.
Above all, Mayor Moser had the most profound respect for the public and its collective opinion. He did not pander to public opinion, but he accepted, with the utmost deference, the will of the people when clearly expressed in free elections. It was in that spirit that in 2004 he voted against the Proctor Pipeline, four years after the public had decisively rejected it in a bond election.
Too often in recent years our politics has been characterized by fear mongering and character assassination, by sound and fury signifying nothing while America sinks into crises of public health, the economy, and racial turmoil. Our country would be so much better off, and we would see so much progress being made in handling the challenges we face, if our “leaders” could act with the efficiency, decency, and respect for each other, the democratic process, and the public which Mayor Moser exemplified. But at least Stephenville was privileged to have his services. If we are poorer now for our loss of Mayor Moser, we are nonetheless better off for the work he did and for the example he set, and which we should all follow. John Moser practiced and exemplified democracy at its best.
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.