The other day I walked into the high school, and was greeted by cheerful noise and energy. I could hear the band practicing. I could hear some kids singing. It was such a hub of activity and life.
My heart filled with emotion, and I was once again reminded why I love being Supervisor of Grand Island. Not long ago, right after my election, I was at the high school to get my Town identification badge. I felt that then what I feel now—it’s a honor to serve this town and all the wonderful people that make up our community.
Since I was elected, I’ve been able to meet and befriend many of these people and together we were able to help Grand Island accomplish many things. I can say with confidence that this job is by far my greatest achievement, and an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. It’s not always easy, and I’ve never worked harder, but I love leading Grand Island.
I’m sure you’ve heard I’m running for Congress. I’m an underdog in that race, but I believe I can win. I’m like Rocky before the raw eggs and early morning runs, or like David without a slingshot. But in reality, if I do win, I will be heartbroken to leave Grand Island.
Recently one of my competitors in the Congressional rage shrugged off the idea of running for a local office. But he will never know the joy holding local office brings. You get to make things happen, and make your own town better. I wish everyone could experience it.
So I urge you to get involved. Join an advisory board, attend Town Board meetings, or take part in one of the many community organizations on Grand Island.
Consider attending the Chamber of Commerce annual award banquet on April 26. Each year they honor citizens and organizations for community service. Pink Martini Gift Shop, Grand Island Fire Company, and Grand Island Farms Inc. received awards, as did my sons’ principal, Ms. Dunbar; our Highway Superintendent, Dick Crawford; and my own Deputy Supervisor, Jim Sharpe.
A deserved award
I am especially proud of Jim, who I know from experience lives and breathes Grand Island. I joked with him that someday in the (hopefully very distant) future when he passes, I’m going to have his body buried at the roundabout, so he can get the recognition he deserves, and still be in the center of it all. There could not be a more deserving recipient of this award.
Another person who should get a Citizen of the Year award is someone who has done more to preserve Grand Island than anybody: Paul Leuchner. He does a wonderful job of keeping our Island green and clean, and gets nothing in return except a verbal beating. Give my nomination out now—Paul Leuchner for 2019 Citizen of the Year!
Not easy, but worth it
Public service is not easy. Sometimes it seems people want to believe the worst about you. Yet, that service is like an earned patina if you serve with courage and purpose beyond pride. Like a fine leather bag, the grit, the exposure, and the wear does not destroy you, but enhances what you are — not a bare unblemished surface, but a million shades of hardened color.
I will always love Grand Island, no matter where I go or what I do. If you have been a public servant in anything from the Boy Scouts to Congress, I’m sure you feel (to one a degree or the other) the same way about this place. Because that is the secret of service: the one serving—picking up the trash, putting on the event, setting up the chairs—more often than not, walks away more thankful, empowered, and uplifted.
Come find out. If you haven’t gotten involved, try it. There are hundreds of groups that need volunteers and there were only a few people who came forward to actually run in the last election. So will I see you April 16th? It’s a great first step. Come join the fun. Grand Island needs you.