My mind goes back to somewhere in 2006 or 2007 at an East Ridge Council meeting. I had taken the opportunity during citizens’ comments to speak, I don’t remember what my question or concern was that night, but I am sure it was about city finances, budget or policy. After the meeting, a very dignified, soft spoken gentleman introduced himself and said “you did well in there, keep it up.” That gentleman was Vernon Liston.
Over a period of a few meetings we spoke about city finances and I learned what a treasure this man was. We exchanged phone numbers and he said anything I can help you with, please call. Little did he know what he was asking for.
Vernon Liston was a true “numbers guy,” he knew the ins and outs of finance, he knew the right way to do things and what the numbers tell you. I would file open records requests for copies of the financial reports, make copies and deliver them to Vernon. Vernon was so kind and patient to educate me on what I was looking at and how to interpret the numbers as they related to the fiscal stability of the city. While my understanding of the finances of our city was on a very elementary, common sense level. Vernon’s was a very advanced, educated, professional, high level of understanding. With the vast difference in our education and experience, Vernon never talked down to me or made me feel that any of my questions were stupid or unimportant. He always explained in common terms how to understand what the numbers were telling us. I learned so much from him and was always encouraged to continue the fight to understand and hold government accountable.
I know that I am but one of many East Ridge citizens that was blessed to have the opportunity to get to know Vernon and learn from him. East Ridge has lost a friend, a concern citizen, a brilliant man and a true gentleman. May we all strive to carry on his love and commitment to our city.
Rest in Peace, Vernon Liston.