Departing Granby mayor wishes town well
For 15 years, I’ve been honored to serve the town of Granby as an appointed and elected official, and it’s truly been one of the most satisfying, rewarding, and frustrating experiences of my life, as well as a great privilege. I came to do this with no agenda but to do my best for my community and to, hopefully, leave it a better place than when I started and to lay the groundwork for continued progress.
In a few moments, the newly elected trustees will take the same oath of office that I and this board’s predecessors did, to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the laws of the state of Colorado, and the ordinances of the town of Granby. I took that oath seriously, and I hope they will too.
Granby is no longer a sleepy little town recognizable only as a wide spot in Highway 40. Granby is one of the fastest growing and changing towns in Colorado. It has a complicated town code and complicated individual agreements with various development groups, and it will be the new mayor and trustees’ sworn duty to honor those laws, ordinances, and agreements until or unless they are changed.
I’ve always believed that I, as an elected official, had a responsibility to look out for the best long term interests of the community as a whole, not beholden to any particular group and receptive to differing opinions. I made every effort to regard the entire town as my constituents. As I leave office, I feel the incoming board has that same charge.
As incoming officials, you will be faced with numerous challenges, and you will discover (as the current board and I did in our turn) the limitations and constraints on what you can accomplish and how rapidly you can accomplish them. You have a steep learning curve and need to understand how those “picky little details” impact on the big picture, and you have a tremendous amount of background material to review just to get up to speed on the town’s business.
You will also discover that some who come before you will present incomplete materials on which they will want you to make decisions; some will have no understanding whatsoever of the public process and will demonize you for having to follow it; some will defy the law, town code, and their own signed agreements; some will lie outright to and about you.
On the other hand, you’ll have citizens with ideas that you never would have thought of, who are creative and “think outside the box.” You’ll see apathy and great energy.
There will be challenges and opportunities. You’ll find that Granby is a community far more complex than “just a blue collar town.” You’ll find that change is eternal and can only be shaped but not stopped. You’ll find it impossible to please everyone with your decisions, and correct decisions will, at some times, please no one.
Before I leave office, I want to express a few words of caution. I see a dangerous aspect emerging into our town’s politics, that of people who don’t reside within the town limits exerting tremendous pressure and influence on town affairs. These individuals and organizations distort facts, denigrate public servants, and seek to have special privileges. It will be a profound challenge to you to follow your oaths of office in the face of this bullying attitude, but I urge you to have the strength to do what is right for our town as a whole and not succumb to those pressures.
I leave office with a sense of “unfinished business,” and a sense of frustration that so much is left undone and that shouting voices overwhelmed the reasonable dialog that I sought and practiced. Despite what some have alleged, my goal was always collaboration and cooperation; but leadership requires having knowledge, having the integrity to stand up against falsehood, and having a wider vision. I hope the incoming board and mayor will do the same.
However, I do leave office content that I upheld my oath, that I devoted the time to learn the public process, that I listened to the ideas that were shared with me and those I served with, and that I did the level best I could to look out for my community as a whole, to be financially responsible with the taxpayers’ money, and to plan for a future for Granby that would meet its present and future challenges. Public service has been a non-stop education (as Sara Thompson said when she left the board years ago, “I sure learned more about asphalt than I ever thought existed”). I thank Granby for the opportunity to give something back to my home over these past years, and I wish the incoming board well in meeting the demands that confront her.
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The response to my column two weeks ago about the crisis Grand County is experiencing in housing and employment has been strong.