A friend recently told me he was surprised to find out that the Mayor and City Council members are not paid for their service to the City. Somewhat in jest (I think), he followed up with, “Why did you run for Mayor?” As Mayor, I get to talk to a lot of Heath residents and field a lot of questions. Other questions frequently posed to me include:
- Are You Accomplishing Your Objectives? When first elected Mayor, I set out three primary objectives: (i) to improve our roads, trails, parks, public utilities and other infrastructure, (ii) to continue Heath’s high quality residential development, and (iii) to attract commercial development that will provide convenience for our citizens without altering the culture of our City. I think our City has made significant progress on all of these objectives, and I anticipate continued progress in the near future.
- Do You Like Being A Politician? Actually, I don’t consider myself a politician. Rather, I consider myself a public servant. In City Government, our responsibilities (maintaining our infrastructure, providing police and fire protection, operating our parks, etc.) are nuts and bolts issues on which political party affiliation should have little impact.
- How Much Time Do You Devote To Being Mayor? It seems like almost every day, Sunday through Saturday, there is something I do related to my responsibilities as Mayor. Some days it may be as limited as responding to emails or having a few phone calls; while other days it may be full day meetings that leave little time for anything else.
- What Can I Do To Have A Positive Impact On Our City? Without great citizen involvement, we will not have a great City; it’s just that simple. Start by being a good neighbor and you will have an immediate positive impact upon our City and the fabric of our community. If you want to be involved in City Government, you can apply to serve on one of our boards or commissions, run for City Council, or simply contact your City Council members to express your opinions. After serving on City Council for eight years and as Mayor for nearly three, let me assure you that a sound opinion expressed in a reasonable manner will definitely have an impact on your elected representatives, especially in a City the size of Heath!
- What Are The Biggest Issues Facing Our City? Probably the major challenge I see is to continue to improve our growth without changing the culture of our City. Landowners have a right to use and develop their property, and we are seeing more and more interest in our City from both residential and commercial developers. However, our challenge is to work with landowners and developers to make sure that the continued growth does not detract from the small town, pastoral, lakeside community we all enjoy.
- Will Heath Get A Grocery Store? During the past few years, we have had inquiries from a number of grocers and developers who want to bring grocery stores to our City. Our City Council and Economic Development Corporation are working hard to lay the groundwork and provide incentives to attract a grocer to Heath, and because of their efforts, I think it is only a matter of time before we see a grocery store in Heath along with more restaurants and other quality commercial developments.
- Do You Like Being Mayor? I absolutely love it! Especially the interaction with people in our community. To me, the best days we have are the days that bring us together, the Fourth of July Parade, the Heart of Heath 5k and the Christmas Tree Lighting. The common expressions of fun and enjoyment at these events are contagious, and are highlights to any year.
- If You Had A Magic Wand, What Is One Thing You Would Change About Heath? I cannot think of any fundamental changes I would make to our City (although I would like to have all of our planned capital improvements done immediately). If I had a magic wand, I would like to go forward in time so that I could see where we are in 20 years, when our community is largely built out, our trails completed and our parks developed. It would be good to see the goals we have set forth come to fruition; but I have to remember that the journey is often more fun than reaching the destination.
Finally, to get back to my friend’s question, Why Did I Run For Mayor? Well, it was for the same reason I chose to serve on the Park Board and run for City Council: I want to serve my community and make Heath the best City possible.
Thanks for allowing me to serve!
Lorne O. Liechty
Mayor, City of Heath