We are all Islanders

Subject: We are all Islanders!

Dear Islanders:

During the campaign, I had the privilege of getting to know many of you. You shared your concerns about town government, and your ideas for improving things. As I begin my term in office, you have my pledge that Town Hall will be a place where every citizen's voice will be heard. Before I'm the Town Supervisor, I am a husband and homeowner, a dad and a taxpayer, a guy who wants nothing more than to raise my family in a safe, thriving community, where my kids have plenty of places to play and to explore.

When work opportunities brought me back to Western New York after many years away, my wife and I looked carefully at many communities in the area. We chose to make our home on Grand Island. There is simply no place quite like the Island: it's easily the most beautiful place on the Niagara Frontier, which may be the most beautiful place on Earth.

There are challenges. Challenges are good: they're how we grow. My responsibility as Supervisor is to listen to your voices, and direct Town government to be responsive to your needs and concerns. My job is to make Grand Island a stronger community, an even better place for our families. In the coming weeks and months, I will be working with the Town Board to review our Town's contracts for professional services to ensure there is no waste or misuse. This is our money: we deserve full value for our dollars. Further, I will be working with Town Hall employees to ensure that our families and small businesses are treated with continued respect and responsiveness. And I will be meeting with officials from Erie County and the State of New York to guarantee that we our getting the attention and commitment we deserve.

I am committed to safeguarding transparency on Grand island. Under my administration, there will be no backroom handshakes or secret deals. And I will use all the resources at my command to enforce and interpret the Town Master Plan to prevent anyone from exploiting our home and its resources for selfish gain.

There is much we can do to beautify our community. With hard work, a little luck, and creative vision, the roundabout could transform into a point of pride, a real landmark for our community. Grand Island Boulevard could become a destination point, thriving with restaurants and small businesses. Cities around the world have used lighting effects to transform nondescript commuter bridges into dramatic, eye-pleasing works of art. It is not just an airy hope to think we could do the same with our bridges. Indeed, with the backdrop of the Niagara River, our outstanding parks and wildlife refuges, and most importantly, the creativity and commitment of our people, we can make Grand Island the envy of the state. And remember, community improvements lift all boats: when the Island is healthy, we all benefit!

The campaign was long, and difficult, and at times, quite bitter. The final result was about as close as an election can get. To those who supported me, I offer my humble thanks. To those who didn't, I ask that you give me a chance. The election is over, and we need to be united now. I don't believe in harboring grudges. I don't believe in settling scores.

Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking often of a man I greatly admire, US General Ely Parker. Ely Parker grew up a stone's throw from Grand Island, on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation. He was a Seneca, the only Native American to rise to the rank of general in the Union Army during the Civil War. Parker was present when the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox Court House; in fact, as General Grant's chief advisor, Ely Parker drafted the articles of surrender. After Robert E. Lee signed the surrender documents, he observed that Ely Parker was an Indian, and said, "At least there is one real American here today." Ely Parker shook his head, and replied, "We are all Americans."

As I begin my service as your Town Supervisor, I can only echo General Parker's sentiments. The battle is over. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are all Grand Islanders. And together, we can accomplish great things. On behalf of my wife and sons, and all of the dedicated officials and employees of Grand Island Township, please accept my warmest wishes for a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year! I look forward to working with you! 

With best regards,

Supervisor McMurray ("Nate")