Well-deserved praise

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2011

For someone in elected service to his community, the highest and best praise for his work isn’t going to come from his peers, his campaign donors or even his family — it’s going to come from the people who gave him a job.

Some of former Councilman Joe Barlow’s constituents gathered to honor him on Saturday in a ceremony at Macedonia Baptist Church. They openly admired his honesty and integrity, his commitment to responding to constituents and his more-than-capable leadership during his six or so years of service on City Council.

The words spoken about Barlow during the event were flattering. His constituents recounted stories of Barlow standing up for citizens who were being wronged; answering the phone to a total stranger and helping to solve a problem; and being honest and forthright in all his dealings.

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If Barlow did something, you could be sure he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do, not because some special interest group had offered him favors or forced his hand. If Barlow said something, you could take it to the bank. If a constituent had a problem, Barlow would fix it quickly and authoritatively.

After being appointed to City Council twice to fill out others’ unexpired terms, Barlow finally ran for election in 2006. Clearly, the citizens of Chuckatuck already were pleased with the way the quiet farmer had represented them, because they elected him again.

“Whether it was 10 at night or 10 in the morning, it didn’t matter,” said John Thrower, a Hobson resident. “All that mattered to him was, ‘How can I help you?’ That’s the type of person he is.”

About 40 community members were present at the event, including a couple of current council members and a General Assembly member. Despite their also effusive praise, surely the most gratifying to Barlow was the comments of those he represented over the years.

May he rest well in retirement, knowing he served the city honorably.