Real leadership is scarce at the local level. Particularly with volunteer positions, so few people have the passion, experience and are willing or able to dedicate the countless hours to the job. That's why I was delighted and relieved to read that Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky has decided to seek another term. When someone has done the job so well for so long, there is a temptation to take that leadership for granted. But the truth is, anyone can talk. It takes an experienced leader to make it look easy. And he has my vote this November.
If you want examples of what happens when good leaders step down, you don’t have to look far to witness the enmity and chaos. In towns all around us, you hear stories of cantankerous town meetings filled with unseemly charges, countercharges, and vicious personal attacks. You hear accusations of nepotism and cronyism, of siphoning and graft. Perhaps you’ve read some of these stories yourself. But you didn’t read them about Westfield.
In fact, I’m quite proud to live in a town where the most contentious issues usually revolve around lights on a soccer field or where to park in a blizzard. As my kids would say, these are “first world problems” to say the least. But the stability and peacefulness and neighborliness of our town does not just happen by accident. It happens with the quiet, humble and expert leadership of Mayor Skibitsky, a volunteer for all these years who makes a whopping $1 salary.
The Mayor is not the kind to blow his own horn, but it is important for voters to know how truly well run our great town is. Westfield is one of just three percent of towns in New Jersey to hold a AAA bond rating. What that confidence in our town’s fiscal management means to taxpayers is that we save countless thousands of dollars in interest when we undertake capital projects to maintain and improve our infrastructure, our roads and our public buildings. That’s money that would come straight from your pocket elsewhere.
Skibitsky has also added police officers and firefighters to keep our town safe, and he provided stellar leadership and responsiveness during Superstorm Sandy. He has convened an inclusive task force to study and recommend action to ensure the vitality of our vibrant downtown. Most of all, he is a gentleman and an ambassador of our town, someone who brings us together regardless of ideology.
His selfless service to our town gets A grades across the board. And particularly at a time when we have such tumult and chaos in national politics, and may well also have destabilizing changes on a state level very soon, the last thing we can afford is instability here in our own back yard. This is no time for change, no time for someone unproven when we have so little to gain and so much to lose. Stay the course. Experience counts. I’m with Andy.