If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you nowhere” – Henry Kissinger
Having lived in places many of you would likely label as Rust Belt cities with little or no appeal, I understand the significant value of city planning, management and leadership. Maybe you do, as well. Cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are places I’ve called home at points in my life and, frankly, I’m grateful for the experiences. They are, though, cities that were once worthy of such unattractive labels. The common themes of why three currently vibrant, alluring destinations were known formerly for being ugly, stale and economically challenged cities two decades ago are a lack of leadership, ineffective planning and politics. One visit to any of those cities today will provide a clear example of what strong leadership, effective planning and minimal petty politics can produce. The transformations of Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh have been remarkable.
Waxahachie, from what I’ve studied and learned since arriving several years ago, was never a southern version of a “Rust Belt” city yet its growth and transformation have been as remarkable. To that end, there’s no question about how I view Waxahachie and its collective leadership. It is an extraordinary place with extraordinary people, plain and simple. Of course, there are those who complain about this or that but any of us would be hard-pressed to find a city where something can’t be improved and we certainly aren’t going to find any city where complaints don’t exist. Whether traffic, infrastructure, amenities, council compatibility, etc., people will want more or different or better ... or all three. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can sometimes be expressed more effectively.
There’s serious work being done to constantly improve Waxahachie. With a plethora of moving pieces, including a variety of people responsible for a variety of projects, the management skills necessary for making it all happen are unique and rare. It takes focus, guts and the highest level of leadership attributes to keep a growth city like ours on track. It takes creative and innovative thinking, as well. From the city manager and his department heads to a cohesive city council, everyone must be working together for the common good. That’s why showing up for city council elections is important and the understanding of whom we elect, essential. From where I sit, we run great risk by voting with our hearts rather than our minds … especially when it comes to the continuation of success for this special community. Lots of people feel qualified to sit on city council and lots of them have no idea what that means.
It’s true that the enemy of being great is being good. People across the spectrum of all sorts of industries – whether business or government, sports or academia – often fall short of uncommon success simply because good became good enough for them. We can’t, and aren’t, letting such a truism occur here. Too many people are too determined to let anything stand in the way of positioning Waxahachie for perpetual growth and improvement. Some won’t like it because some want their small, country town back and I get it. The stark truth, though, is that Waxahachie is not a small, country town. It is a small city located in a unique position, both figuratively and literally. The key, therefore, is to manage growth in ways that preserve our uniqueness, familial culture and features. Before you think otherwise, let me assure you of the deep commitment to do just that.
So, let’s celebrate our home and the gifts God has given us through it. Bring your ideas, express your concerns respectfully, attend a city council meeting or visit one of the city’s leaders and you’ll discover men and women who are not only good at what they do but who care profoundly for the path upon which Waxahachie travels.
It is a path most cities in America would be lucky to find.