Our View: Congratulations due to Mayor Hargis for a job well doneHe’s been a mainstay in the Woodbury City Council chambers for more than 18 years.
He’s been a mainstay in the Woodbury City Council chambers for more than 18 years. So much so that Mayor Bill Hargis has his “Welcome to a Woodbury City Council meeting” introduction down to such a meticulous and even-keeled cadence that, at times, it might seem like a routine task.
But even as he recited the words over and over again - words that greet newcomers and to their first city government meeting - you can sense in them a sincerity of stewardship.
From the “I’d like to welcome you all to the Woodbury City Council meeting…” to his explanation of the “green sheet” process that allows those in attendance to sign up to speak during the open forum portion of the meeting, Hargis has gone through the routine more than 300 times over his 17-plus years as mayor.
It is his willingness to repeat those words at the start of each council meeting that provides a small glimpse into his commitment to the seat he was appointed to in 1993 and to the community he has lived in for nearly 40 years.
That’s right. Hargis did not seek out his first term as mayor. He did not even seek out his short, one-year stint as a City Council member prior to his appointment to the top-elected municipal seat in Woodbury. He was appointed to the City Council after serving as a volunteer member of the Economic Development Commission. Perhaps the circumstances of his tenure demonstrate Hargis’s commitment to the community.
In 1993 the then-Mayor Ken Mahle resigned due to a reported personal scandal. And when the City Council looked to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of such a resignation, they looked to Hargis for new leadership. And his willingness to serve the community turned into nearly two decades of stewardship.
When he made his decision not to seek a fifth full term earlier this spring, Hargis said “I think 17 years is long enough and the city seems to be in good hands. It’s time for a transition, I think.”
As his final days as mayor come to a close, we are happy to say we agree with Hargis’s sentiments. The city is in capable hands. And the residents have Hargis to thank for that fact.
We believe the city will continue to be in such capable hands when new leadership (Mayor-elect Mary Giuliani Stephens and City Council member-elect Christopher Burns) assumes office on Jan. 1.
Obviously, even the best city councils and slickest-run municipal governments will find they have critics and areas that they can improve. But let not it be said that during Bill Hargis’s turn at the helm, Woodbury did not improve tremendously as a residential living community and as burgeoning economic development engine in the East Metro. Because it certainly did.
And while the underlying conditions were ripe for such a growth period to occur in Woodbury, every community needs good, steady leadership to guide such growth.
We believe that Hargis’s foresight and adherence to the tradition of leadership established by Woodbury’s two other long-tenured mayors, Orville Bielenberg and Dan Guider, made for a solid two decades of growth as a community literally tripled in size and headed into the 21st century.
Of course there are bumps and bruises along the way. From myriad water issues to the trickle-down effect of an economic downturn that slowed commercial and residential growth over the last few years, Woodbury has been faced with its fair share of challenges. But Hargis has always been forthright in addressing such challenges and welcoming help from those residents who want to be part of the solution.
For his steady leadership through boom times and challenging times, and his willingness to invite others to the participate in the public process, we congratulate Bill Hargis on a job well done as mayor.