I can hardly believe we are coming up on Christmas and the end of the year. It seems like just yesterday that we were starting 2017. It has been quite the year.
We’ve worked our way through some tough issues. The two that I would put right at the top of the list were getting a fair pavement management plan in place, allowing us to plan for resurfacing all of the streets in the city over the next 20 yeas, and getting a much needed and much delayed update started on our Recreation and Aquatic Center. The first paving projects should be started shortly, additional paving projects will be underway by summer, and the Rec Center is tracking toward a mid-February completion.
Our long time Library Director retired last spring. Her great assistant got the proverbial offer she couldn’t refuse in Colorado and headed west. We managed to snag a fantastic new Library Director from Zephyrhills and I expect to see great things from our New Port Richey Public Library this coming year. We’ve already seen an increase in library hours, making the library even more convenient to visit.
As Mayor, I’ve been invited to a number of events over the past year. Among the most unique invitations I received was one from the Beth-El Shalom Synagogue to light their outdoor Menorah earlier this month.
I stayed and enjoyed their evening service that followed. The Rabbi was kind enough to offer a prayer for me. I gladly accepted his offer. I figure I can use all the divine help I can get.
Earlier this year, I attended a Bahai celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of their founder.
Earlier this month, I enjoyed the Christmas musical program at First Baptist Church of Elfers.
This past Wednesday, I participated in Christmas caroling around Sims Park and the downtown with my home church, First United Methodist of New Port Richey.
Later this month, I’ll be attending the anniversary celebration at the Faith Lutheran Church.
It has definitely been an ecumenical past few months. When I was growing up, New Port Richey had Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, and a handful of people belonging to other denominations. Things have changed quite a bit over the last fifty years or so. We now have an amazingly diverse faith community.
My hope for our community and our nation is that people of faith will speak out on the issues that we face. While I strongly support the separation of church and state, I believe that much of the decline in our country over the past several decades can be traced back to our faith communities losing their voice. They either went mute or were co-opted by politicians to the extent that they lost all moral authority. It is past time for people of faith to regain their collective voices.
I firmly believe that our country will not become great again by the actions of self serving politicians that pick their voters and pander to their campaign contributors, but rather by average Americans saying “ENOUGH” in a voice strong enough to make that difference. The voters that cast ballots for Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders last year were saying exactly that. Voters in Alabama voting against sleaze earlier this month were saying that too. Our representatives in Washington, Tallahassee, and Pasco County have been put on notice that we are not going to accept the same old same old anymore. They will recognize that, or they won’t be around long.
I was elected Mayor determined to not accept the status quo in my city any more. My colleagues on the city council, reflecting a wide variety of political beliefs, came together with me in a non-partisan fashion to start making things happen. I am confident that we will continue to do so in the coming year. We can hope that our national, state, and county will follow our lead and do what is best for everyone and not just listen only to their campaign contributors and the shrillest voices in their political party.
Time to get off my soapbox and enjoy time with my family this Christmas weekend.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your families.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor