On Leadership (09/03/09)

Woodstock is a community of over six thousand people staffed by 65 full-time employees, several part-timers, and hundreds of volunteers. It costs us several millions of dollars each year to keep our engines running and our high-quality services available.

Everyday challenges arise just about every day, and must be met with directly. Longer-term problems, usually big and complex, must be chipped away at continually if we are to develop effective solutions. Competence matters. It matters a lot.

How competent does Woodstock’s Supervisor need to be? To do the job the way I do it, I need to be competent in personnel management, accountancy, municipal law, contract negotiation, information technology, diplomacy, and public relations; mostly, I have to be competent in dealing with people of all kinds. Above all, I have to be competent at making timely decisions: some easy, some very difficult, but all necessary.

This can be very challenging, but meeting these challenges does not in itself constitute leadership.

Leadership—true leadership—requires vision, because only vision will help us to weather change successfully, and change is the only constant. A competent leader becomes an agent of change. An incompetent leader becomes a victim of change.

A competent leader manages growth without inviting shrinkage, exploits resources intelligently while conserving them for posterity, and builds on the knowledge of the past to chart an informed course for the future. A competent leader guides his charges to a position of greater strength, greater safety, and greater prosperity.

In the past 20 months, I have helped our Town to save tens of thousands of dollars. I have identified and corrected structural imbalances in municipal finances. I have led our Town Board in eliminating certain positions and adding others so that departments run efficiently and cost-effectively. I have worked with other Supervisors and legislators to ensure that Woodstock is taxed fairly. I have turned good deals for our Town into great deals.

I ask for your support, and your trust, in enabling me to lead our Town in this new term.

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