The first business day of 2019 dawned bright and clear, with one of those impossibly blue skies above the blinding white of the snow. The cold snap has eased. We headed into town for the investiture of Dubois’ new mayor, John Meyer.
As our national government writhes in conflict and dysfunction, how does little Dubois handle such a solemn occasion? I was curious what would transpire, as the mantle passed from the mayor of eight years’ tenure, Twila Blakeman, to a man who served a brief stint as a substitute in the Town Council a while ago, but who has kept a modest profile in town until he stood for the recent election.
After two terms in office, the former Mayor didn’t take an active role in last fall’s mayoral campaign, intending (she told me) to leave the outcome in God’s hands.
God and the town citizens had chosen. When we arrived at Town Council chambers, Twila stood cheerily at the side, waiting to call the proceedings to order.
Only about two dozen people were in attendance, including two newly re-elected Council members (Pat Neveaux and Bruce John Thompson) who also needed swearing in, and a handful John’s friends from out of town. The incumbent opened the meeting promptly at 10 AM, ready to swear in the new Mayor and give him the keys to the town.
John Meyer, looking entirely the role of a Western small-town mayor in a black vest and white shirt, stood up to read the pledge of office, which mostly attests that he didn’t engage in any dirty shenanigans during his campaign.
There was a smattering of applause as he signed it, and John reached over to embrace Twila. Then he reminded her that she still needed to hand him the keys to the town. Everyone chuckled, and she did.
Next the new Mayor swore in the two re-elected Council members. One was wearing jeans, the other a Volunteer Fire Department sweatshirt. Councilman Thompson raised his hand and began to read the statement. He stumbled over a few of the words.
“I forgot my glasses,” he said quietly. Mayor Meyer handed him his own, and we chuckled again.
Thompson handed the glasses back, signed the document, and that was it. “I just want to say thanks, that I appreciate your support and that I look forward to serving the town,” said the new Mayor. “There you have it.”
What changes will this bring? I have heard many people speculate. John, always amiable, has been silent on the question, except to repeat his campaign pledge to work for economic diversity.
Mostly, as far as I can see, he has been listening: Attending Town Council meetings, cosponsoring a Town Hall meeting at the Library with our representative to the State legislature, holding private meetings with Mayor Blakeman to learn the many details that are involved in running even a town with a population of a mere 1,000.
During the past eight years, among many other routine activities, Mayor Blakeman has arranged the EPA cleanup of a brownfield site on the location of the former sawmill, which has been converted to a new town park; the erection of a Veterans Memorial, achieved using only local funding; the repaving and restoration of water lines beneath several streets; and the repair of a bridge with a $240,000 grant from the state government.
What new ideas will the new Mayor present to Dubois? And how will he fare in trying to accomplish them? Eagerly, calmly, and in solid civic order, we await the coming year.
©Lois Wingerson, 2019
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