From the Mayor 04/13/16

One of the hazards of any public service position is that you become a target for a lot of people who are angry. Not all of them are necessarily angry with you personally, although some certainly are. But many are just angry in general and you’re the easiest one to attack. 
I get that. 

When Leonhard Caflisch talked me into allowing him to appoint me to city commission, I told him, “I don’t think I’m tough enough.” And I was right; I was not that tough. In the last year since my appointment, I’ve been given a crash course in listening politely to people as they passionately tell me that I don’t know what I’m doing. 

But I received a refreshing change last week; correspondence from someone named Vickey Thornhill that was well thought out, touching, and amazingly well written. (Don’t misunderstand me, Vickey’s not a fan; she also told me that I don’t know what I’m doing, and she asked why I’m trying to destroy our great city.) 

I’ve never met Vickey, and wouldn’t know her if we passed on the street, but I think she’s a bit of a poet, and she gave me permission to share some of her letter:

"At one time, Independence had more millionaires than any of the surrounding towns. I love the stories of delivering clothes to a lady’s home so she could try on clothes in the comfort of her own home and then riding their bicycle back to the store with the unwanted items. Just one of many great stories about the old days. I loved this town. Everyone knew everyone and we were safe. I had boys playing on three ball fields at the same time. I knew they were safe because someone I knew (and probably went to school with) knew who my kids belonged to and watched them for me…just like I did theirs. This is what my town is about. My kids telling the local gas station that they forgot their money but their mom would be by later. Having Ashcraft Tire go pick my son up from swimming practice and take him back to the tire shop because his brother's car wasn't ready. I could go on for days about the things we do for each other here. I so desperately want my town back."

Wow. I love her words. They are incredible. The thing is though, that’s pretty much how I picture Independence now. Clearly Vickey believes that we’ve lost that close knit, small town feeling. Since I didn’t live here when the city was even more amazing, Independence just seems incredibly amazing to me. Events like the fountain dedication and park opening day, fund raisers for someone with medical needs, chili suppers, church bazaars…..all are well supported and great fun. Several times I haven’t even been able to get into an event because it was sold out.

Are we really that far away from Vickey’s picture? And can we get back to an Independence like that?

I’m asking sincerely for your input. I believe that Independence can accomplish anything if we can develop a plan and go after it. Great masterpieces are created by thousands of tiny brushstrokes. 

I’ve scheduled several listening sessions around town over the next few weeks, and I’m asking you to please come by and tell me specifically what steps we can take to get us to that place that Vickey describes.

Mayor Gary Hogsett