Thursday was the last Town Council agenda Mayor George Proto will work through. On July 1st, new Mayor Smitty Dize takes the gavel. The Mirror obtained a copy of Mr. Proto’s farewell remarks below:
Well, this is my last regular town council meeting. I note that the First Lady of Cape Charles is in the audience, and Nancy, I want to thank you for all your help and good advice over the years. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for you.
Also, I want to thank the town staff who have come here month after month, kept me on track and made things flow smoothly. Thank you Libby, Larry, Debbie, Dave, Jim, Charlie, Ann and others too numerous to mention.
I want to thank the members of town council, past and present with whom I have served. I like to point out to people that if Congress performed as well – you all know what I’m going to say here – if Congress performed as well we’d have a balanced budget, a low debt burden and a continually improving infrastructure.
Since this is my last meeting I get to give some advice.
I feel my term as Mayor has been a good one. I feel like I have had a great run with tons of support both from Council and the citizens of this town. And (mostly) I have enjoyed being mayor.
We are now seeing an explosion in growth, not just in the quantity of businesses but in rejuvenation of houses and businesses throughout the town, and in the overall quality of our town life. This is not due to the efforts of one or another person over a short period of time, but to the efforts of many people working over the course of decades to make things better. I would like to see that upward trend continue.
With that in mind I want to talk about five things: the need for balance, our core assets, the town staff, relations with the county, and your new mayor.
I like to think that my term as Mayor has been about balance, that is, about maintaining the balance between competing and sometimes opposing needs and interests. I think the role of government, and particularly its executive branch is to assure no one person or group of persons is favored over another. So to Council and the newly elected officials, and to the town in general I remind you always to look at how decisions that are made affect everyone in town, not just now, but in the future as well and not to let short term gains or gains for one group or individual overshadow the larger goals of the town. “What you do for one you may need to do for all.” We are a diverse community and it is one of the characteristics of our town that we value. We need to look at the needs of all when we make decisions.
Next, this town has a number of remarkable core assets: the beach, the harbor, and an incredible historic, small town atmosphere. I urge you all to maintain control of them and to protect and preserve them. These things shape who we are as a town and are key drivers for economic development. They are vital to our identity and, indeed our existence and we should treasure and protect them.
A good portion of the remarkable revival and growth we are experiencing is due to the hard work of a great town staff. Things certainly don’t always go smoothly, and we all occasionally make mistakes, in this town or in any organization, but in general this town runs exceptionally well. I ask that you recognize the hard work that Staff does and take the time to appreciate their efforts. And if you do have a problem please keep in mind that it is Town Council and the Mayor who set policy and the Town Manager who carries it out, not the staff person with whom you are dealing.
We currently have an excellent relationship with the County. I urge you all to maintain that. We are, after all citizens of the County as well as the town and there are many areas where we can work together to make things better for all of us. It’s not them and us, it’s us and us.
Finally, to all in town, be kind to your new Mayor and give him the same courtesy and respect that you have given to me over these past four years. Indeed I ask you to be kind and civil to each other. We can all certainly disagree, and sometimes disagree strongly, but let your arguments address the issues and the facts behind them rather than degrade to being personal. Disagree, but disagree agreeably. I strongly believe Smitty Dize will be an outstanding Mayor. He’s smart; He’s tough; he understands this town; and he has a lot of experience that will stand him and the town in good stead, so I ask that you support and encourage him – and try to give him a little space if he is out for an evening with Beth.
I’m very hopeful for this town. We have everything we need in the way of talent, skills, and assets to continue to grow in a positive way. Keep the faith and keep things moving upward – for everybody.
I’m going to close with my Mayor’s prayer.
Grant me wisdom and fear of the Lord and patience and a thick skin. Let me not be swayed by the raucous voices of the rowdy few but rather listen with an open mind and heart to all who petition.
Let me govern with the best interest of all in mind, protecting the weak, standing up to the strong when necessary and doing what is right and ethical not only for the immediate circumstances but also for generations to follow.
Let me realize when it is appropriate for my time in office to end, and depart with grace and dignity, leaving a legacy not to promote myself but of a bright present and future for my town.
Mayor, Cape Charles, Virginia