City Notes: My public service nearly in the rear-view mirror
Over the past several years, I’ve shared with you various updates and perspectives on city initiatives and projects or issues of concern to the community. As I begin to close out my public-service career, the past 13 years of which as Westerville's city manager, I thought I might share with you in this last column a little retrospective.
One word continually comes to my mind as I think about this community – exceptional. No need for a Webster's definition here; you all know exceptional when you experience it – and I have experienced it. Here’s how:
Westerville is exceptionally generous. In the past 13 years, the voters of Westerville have supported five funding issues, beginning with the ever-critical Issue 54 in 2008 that essentially equalized the income-tax rate at 2% in Westerville for residents and shored up funding of core city services for the foreseeable future. It also facilitated a major investment in our core infrastructure.
Westerville is exceptionally friendly. Just ask Forbes Magazine, which rated Westerville the “Fifth Friendliest” community in the country.
Westerville is exceptionally authentic. We didn’t need to create a downtown. We already had the best one around in Uptown. All we needed to do was upgrade it and help it thrive with smart policies to help businesses and building owners reinvest and to celebrate it with our neighbors with enhanced Fourth Fridays, new public spaces and, yes, more parking.
Westerville is exceptionally patriotic. Whether it's the Field of Heroes flag display over Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July parade and festivities, Honor Flight or the Veterans Day breakfast (just to name a few), Westerville is Red, Blue and White.
Westerville is exceptionally compassionate. The prominence of such home-grown charitable organizations as Caring & Sharing, WARM, Neighbor-to-Neighbor or Neighborhood bridges, is remarkable. Simply put, Westerville responds to the needs of her people.
And if I were to shake up all of these traits and blend them together, I don’t know what you would call it, but I do know what it would look like. It would look like the second week of February 2018. From the City Hall courtyard and along the darkened streets painted with blue porch lights to a sea of swollen eyes and the stream of humanity crowded along the roadways – this exceptional community gathered together to mourn and say farewell to fallen heroes in an indescribable display of honor, respect and gratitude.
All this I will remember as I say thank you to so many who have helped make Westerville the exceptional community that it is. It has truly been an honor and great privilege to have served as your city manager these past 13 years. Our future is bright, and I know that it will be exceptional.
David Collinsworth is Westerville's city manager.