Supervisor's Corner: A Different Take on New Year's Resolutions and the Town of Webster Government
By Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty
The dictionary meaning of the word "resolution" is a firm decision to do or not do something. A New Year's tradition has been that this is the time when we make resolutions in our personal lives. Often, they are to get in shape or lose weight. They also tend to fade by February! As such, were they truly firm decisions to do or not to do something? Fact is, New Year's resolutions are usually verbal and a contract made with one's self. Ever try enforcing a verbal contract... and, worse yet, one you made with yourself? (LOL)
At the Webster Town Board meetings each first and third Thursday of the month, we vote on "written resolutions." They are not to be taken lightly since if the motion being voted on is approved by at least 3 of the 5 Town Board members, that becomes part of the Town Code and/or law. Bottom line... these truly are the dictionary meaning of "firm decisions to do or to not do something."
Recently I have been quoted in press releases, the Webster Today (The new Town Times) and social media postings my realization in my first year as Town Supervisor that "governing in the Town of Webster is a TEAM effort." To accomplish anything for the greater good of the community, you need the team effort of the Town's department heads, employees, various citizen volunteer boards, and the Town Board.
During my candidacy for Town Supervisor in 2019, a competing candidate verbally and in writing stated what he/she would do in their "first 100-days as Town Supervisor," and the wide scale changes he/she would make happen in town. I can only speculate that this candidate for Town Supervisor did not understand that the position is NOT an executive position such as President, Governor, County Executive, or Mayor. Simply said, the Town Supervisor position is a "hybrid" of Executive and Legislative. The Executive part comes in the form of being who the department heads report to. The legislative part is that they are only 1 of the 5-person Town Board, and as previously stated... you need a majority vote of this board to pass resolutions that become Town Code/law.
Make no mistake... the Town Supervisor has a LOT of influence. As with any organization, it is a "top-down" culture. If the leader of an organization is committed to Organizational Structure and Customer Service... it will eventually permeate down through the organization. If a leader does NOT set the tone on culture and what the organization is committed to... it will be created for them from within and often will be one that is not good.
I knew all this one year ago when I was sworn in as Town Supervisor. As such, I approached my first year as Supervisor with two simple mantras that had served me well in my personal and business life... The first was that NOTHING changes Day 1. I was in discovery mode and needed to work with the department heads to determine what the strengths and weaknesses of the organization were before discussing what changes need to be discussed. The second was that I would "work hard, tell the truth, and take my chances on how I would be ultimately received and accepted." I remember many of my initial meetings with department heads and board members where I said, "I appreciate you don't know me, so why would you trust me Day 1?" Trust and respect are not garnered by having the title "Town Supervisor." They are earned through experiences you encounter with people. They all needed to encounter experiences with me, and me with them, to form that trust and respect.
So now I enter Year 2 of being Webster Town Supervisor. My "day-to-day" learning curve is much less now than it was 1 year ago... but every day I am learning something new. I'm excited for the opportunities 2021 will bring for the Town. I truly feel that people are "rowing in the same direction," and when that organically occurs.... the TEAM can achieve a LOT. I am "resolved" to lead the town in a pragmatic manner that makes sure no one feels disenfranchised. Decisions need to be made for the "greater good" and with an eye to the future. Over the next several months, I look forward to articulating some details of that for the town in this column.
As always, if you want to reach me, please call (585) 872-7068 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.