Guest Post by Don Iliff
Residents of Hancock County should look at community power from the elitist position to explain how community decisions are made and implemented in the City of Findlay and Hancock County. Hunter’s research study of a community identified the most influential people and extended his findings into assumptions of community power positions. The following assumptions are drawn from the work of Hunter’s research study of a typical community similar to the City of Findlay. These assumptions should look familiar to us County and City residents.
1. Policies like the creation of new Conservatory District that vitally affect community life appear suddenly, with the majority of citizens not knowing by whom they are sponsored.
2. Some community actions appear manipulated to the advantage of a privileged few.
3. In many instances, community actions appear not to square with democratic principles of decision making.
4. This City and County’s concept of democracy is in danger of losing its hold on citizens if the lines of communication between citizens and elitists who mold the development of communities are not broadened and strengthened.
5. Differences between leaders and other people lie in the fact that within the community there exist informal social groupings consisting of those who possess power giving definite functions over to certain persons and not to others.
Hunter contended that in a power structure similar to the City of Findlay and Hancock County’s relatively few individuals at the top interact informally on matters of personal and public interest. Dominating the group is business, CEOs of the major corporations located in the area, and leaders of its economic institutions.
In this elite power structure there is no one leader who leads all of the time. Leadership depends on the policy issue and on an elitist member’s interest. For example when an elitist develops a policy or interest in building a new community stadium, hospital, university, or highway system, other members of the community elite supports the project.
In summary, major policy decisions are informally made by the elite, and government becomes the implementer rather than the policymaker. Hancock County and the City of Findlay residents are victims of the elitist power position. Attempts to create a Conservatory District, a Town Center project, and the creation of Greater Findlay Inc. are three examples of elitist power which Hancock County and City of Findlay residents are currently challenging.