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City needs ‘imperfect’ mayor who can see all sides

After only a few articles, demands of life are such that sadly, this will be my last article in the Boulder City Review. So I leave you with what I feel Boulder City needs.

Boulder City was on the verge of change as a small city organization was formed to challenge the status quo. It was at an early meeting of the Boulder City Community Alliance that they had an important decision to make. Who do they endorse for the two open seats in City Council? The group, with its focus on keeping us small and preserving our historic roots, didn’t feel heard by the establishment at the time.

Many candidates spoke but in the end the endorsements went to Warren Harhay and our current mayor, Kiernan McManus. McManus was an obvious choice, those in the alliance had long seen him as a champion of their causes. Harhay was much less obvious. When asked if he would sign the organization’s “pledge” he had simply stated that he would only commit to one pledge: the Pledge of Allegiance. But despite this he won over the group and got the endorsement.

From that moment until his unfortunate passing, Harhay proved his ability to do what few politicians could: walk a tightrope. He was boldly independent and regularly voted in ways that did not align with the alliance’s views. Likewise, he was not a perfect councilman for those who were strong supporters of business and growth either. Yet he worked well and was respected by both sides.

In fact, by being the imperfect councilman to both sides, he was the perfect councilman. How was he able to do this? He disagreed without being disagreeable. He worked with, not vilified, those who opposed his views. He saw that the city was full of people on both sides who loved this city and wanted to see constructive progress.

As a candidate for mayor he saw no reason to attack or vilify former Mayor Rod Woodbury or McManus. He was not successful; the middle is a tough place to win a primary, and by this time it was clear that his health would impact his ability to lead.

So why go on and on about Warren Harhay? While his work is well deserving of the spotlight, that is not why I highlight him. The reason is we need more. We need a council full of Harhays. People who aren’t perfect candidates for either side but will work with them. One that will find a way to build bridges between disputes and keep our tax dollars going to roads, parks and swimming pools, not lawyer fees and internal investigations.

I think there are a few on the council who have that potential. But only a few. It has become clear to me that the current mayor does not have this potential. It is not just in how he votes; it’s in how he treats others, employees, other council members when they disagree with him and citizens who disagree with him. This has become clear in his recent disagreements with Councilwoman Claudia Bridges.

Because of this, I am making my way-too-early endorsement for mayor. We need someone who can work with both sides, who understands our historic nature, has a desire to preserve it, yet will work better with local businesses and see that we do need a balance. Someone with big ideas. Someone who loves this town and is respected by people on both sides.

We have such a person in Alan Goya. Alan has served for years with no thought of recompense as the chair of the Historic Preservation Committee. His show Bold Boulder is a blessing to all citizens and to our business community. He is loved by all who know him and his enthusiasm is contagious. While unique, he envelops many of the qualities that Warren Harhay brought to the table.

I remember at election season last year walking by his home and noticing he had signs for almost all candidates. He respected and liked them all; he didn’t feel a need to pick sides, just show support. That is the type of attitude we need.

I don’t think he wants to run, the best rarely do. George Washington didn’t, but the country needed him. Well, Alan, we need you now. I hope you consider running.

Preston G. Wright is a writer and resident of Boulder City. He loves food, politics, raising chickens and spending time with his wife and family. You can find him under Preston Wright on Facebook.

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