Mayor trying to approach issues with the tone of a student

By Matt Nicholson

I serve in a role that regardless of what I do or don’t do, someone will be upset by it.

I knew this going in, but I guess I didn’t realize exactly how much is decided without firsthand knowledge.

First, though, a look at the last week from my seat on the front row of the small town.

The Seymour Redevelopment Commission recently decided to adopt a formal request process for those seeking their support. This doesn’t change who can be funded with dollars brought in through the tax increment financing mechanism.

It does, however, give the members of the commission the ability to make decisions with more information at their fingertips, such things as what other funds are being used to match the request or how many the investment will serve will now be presented along with the request.

The redevelopment commission also elected new officers for 2021. Thank you to past president J.J. Reinhart and congratulations to new President Mark Dennis.

After a delay, the city council discussed the rezone of property on Maple Avenue. With the delay, we decided to bring it up for discussion prior to preparing the ordinance and holding the required two hearings.

Check The Tribune for the story by Zach Spicer with more details, but the quick version of the request is to rezone property located on Maple Avenue from C-2 commercial to R-1 Residential. The property owner is requesting to build single-family residential homes on the property.

My weekly visit was with the transit department. While I am not trained well enough to tackle all things, I am well prepared to answer the phone and sell monthly passes. I believe Linda appreciated the extra help and, if nothing else, someone to laugh with as we made our way through the morning.

The last few weeks of the year brought on a challenge I was not used to. That is staff needing to use up vacation days before they lose them. For that reason, I spent about an hour playing dog catcher. I have a new appreciation for his role with the city as I found myself at best being a dog watcher and not a very good one at that.

If you happened to have seen me in your neighborhood driving around in what would probably appear to be circles, that is why. I never did manage to do more than catch a few fleeting views of the pup as it raced between houses.

Now back to that opening thought. Sometimes, I think many of you believe I somehow took office Jan. 1, 2020, and was given great knowledge of every little detail that pertains to the city of Seymour and anything that might even in the least relate to it.

As much as I hate to disappoint some of you, I have to take this moment to remind you I am not the omnipotent mayor of Seymour. Neither were the 31 different people who served before me since 1865.

Instead, I have surrounded myself with people who get into the details of their own departments and bring the information to me as I need it. It is with their help that not only myself but all elected officials make decisions.

Those decisions are based on information from many areas. I used to be quick to publicly pass judgment but learned many years ago I often didn’t have enough information to understand how that decision was made. I learned to approach situations with the tone of a student trying to learn instead of judge, jury and executioner waiting to carry out my predetermined beliefs.

I will leave you with the words of British philosopher Bertrand Russell: “Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which in fact was false.”

Matt Nicholson is the mayor of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected]