Open Forum: Why Another Four Years?
After 32 years on City Council, the last eight as mayor, people ask me, “Why do you want to do this again?” And I tell them, “The service is its own reward.’
Promoting Winchester is a large part of my job — one I take very seriously, whether I’m speaking to civic groups, representing the city at meetings, celebrating a business opening with a ribbon-cutting, or working on issues as a member of council. Welcoming so many visitors to our city still gives me a great feeling of pride.
When I look around Winchester, I see our children getting a good education, our police and fire personnel keeping our streets safe, our sanitation workers keeping the city clean, our public works employees keeping up with our infrastructure, our water and sewer services kept up to date, and our tax rate still reasonable.
That is not to say we don’t have our challenges. We do. But I feel that we are a community that has been proactive rather than just riding out the fiscal storm. And this has been beneficial to us.
I am very proud of the way this city has responded to our economic stresses. Three years ago we created a special budget committee — made up of councilors, citizens and staff — to do a thorough budget review, one line item at a time.
From those reviews, we made some substantial cuts to our budgets over the last few fiscal years while preserving the most essential city services. We were able to save on costs without having to lay off any employees.
Our city continues to have a reputation for good fiscal management. We have built up our reserves and have used them wisely. And we have benefited from this in terms of real dollars. Recently we were able to lower our interest rate on bonds, saving well more than a million taxpayer dollars.
While many of the decisions we have to make seem routine and uncontroversial, they are still very important. Much staff work and thought have to go into those issues as well. Our city staff does a phenomenal job.
What gets tough are the controversial issues, the ones that bring out the greatest number of citizen comments. I always listen very carefully to what my constituents have to say.
In the end, I have to cast my vote. Sometimes the decision is not clear-cut. In those cases, all I can do is consider all the facts at my disposal, especially the opinions of the residents. Sometimes, you just have to listen with your heart.
I want to leave you with this: I can’t always be sure, but I always hope that I have made the right decision for our city. Trying to make the right decision — that is my guidepost. This is the pledge I make to you.
It is my great honor to serve as your mayor. Once again, I ask for your support and vote on Nov. 6.
Elizabeth A. Minor is mayor of the City of Winchester.