I want our new consolidated metro government to have leadership that embraces fiscal, social and environmental sustainability. I’d like this leader to have experience ensuring stability in property values. And I’d like this leader to have vision for our community’s future. After hearing the Germantown Mayor address the Memphis Kiwanis Club, I am putting a DRAFT GOLDSWORTHY sticker on my bumper.
Mayor Goldsworthy proved to me that she has an extraordinary understanding of government operations, budget management, constituent outreach and urban planning. So much so, that I really would like her to reconsider her position on consolidation. As well, I am asking all that have been critical of her position to try reaching out to her again. I honestly believe that there must be more similarity here than differences.
Goldsworthy talks the talk & walks the walk
Mayor Goldsworthy eloquently spoke of Germantown’s past leaders. She and her predecessors have been acutely aware of their city’s limited supply of land and growth potential. Therefore they have managed development, costs and expenses in their community quite purposefully.
She stated, “Since we only have so much room for growth, we want everything to be of the highest quality.” She talked about how this led to Shelby County’s first example of a Design Review Commission to ensure that all construction met exemplary standards and fit in with the area context and community plans. Wouldn’t every city in Shelby County like this? Couldn’t Memphis and Shelby County benefit from this mechanism to ensure investment security and neighborhood stability? DRAFT GOLDSWORTHY!
Goldsworthy is a thoughtful manager
Mayor Goldsworthy rattled off an understanding of municipal revenues and expenses unlike any elected official I have encountered. She talked about Managed Competition and other cost reduction techniques Germantown is actually using to run a responsible City Hall and keep from raising taxes. Each time they think they are doing a good job, they research best practices and try one more time to do better.
Other than firemen and police officers, “Every department must come before a panel to justify filling vacant jobs because over time our needs change.” Because she created a system that reduces departmental expenses and improves productivity, Mayor Goldsworthy has been able to expand public safety services, add police and increase patrol coverage. Couldn’t Memphis and Shelby County benefit from this? Wouldn’t this type of earnest drive for greatness benefit all of the communities that are touched by the newly consolidated area? DRAFT GOLDSWORTHY!
Goldsworthy is a visionary economist
The Mayor talked about dealing with daily issues but repeatedly talked about looking forward. She admitted, “no one worries when everything is new, but nothing stays new and we have to make sure we deal with aging neighborhoods before they are a problem.” Germantown makes sure homes and yards are maintained. Upkeep is never overlooked so no property ever slips into a deteriorated state. This creates stability and security for every neighbor.
Sharon Goldsworthy spoke of best practices that she has gleaned by benchmarking with similar communities. She seems to know what works and what doesn’t.
She also has a handle on the mix of uses that produce the optimum tax revenue while preserving the quality of life Germantown residents expect. WHAT!?! An elected official that speaks of planning and zoning? A politician that not only has the guts to guide projects where the city wants them but plans for future projects and sticks to the plan? This is unheard of. Mayor Goldsworthy talked percentages of land area. She knew that over 30% was public space, untaxed buildings, roads and infrastructure. She knew approximately what percentage of retail and office space was needed to support that and benefit residential taxpayers. She is seeking equilibrium in the existing developed areas and in the future of the yet to be developed parcels. Wouldn’t we want this for all of Shelby County? Couldn’t Memphis and Shelby County use a big fat dose of this medicine? DRAFT GOLDSWORTHY!
She proudly discussed infrastructure, like water projects, being funded with today’s dollars but with benefits for generations to come. She knew how many were being served and how many more could be and, most mindboggling, she knew why this information might be important to decisions made in City Hall.
Goldsworthy is a New Urbanism advocate
In her address, Mayor Goldsworthy even hit Smart Growth. Yep, Smart Growth in a self-proclaimed bedroom community. Mayor Goldsworthy seemed keenly aware that sometimes strip-centers outlive their usefulness or succumb to age. She talked about some being repaired or rebuilt. However, she also recognized an opportunity to knit different neighborhoods and municipal buildings together around a higher-density, mixed-use town center. In place of some car oriented shopping centers could someday stand new urbanist communities that celebrate old Germantown and new Germantown.
Whitehaven, Raleigh and Cordova are all screaming for this while someone is planning for it in Germantown. She is talking about doing exactly the opposite of what the criticized Overton Square developers were… adding urbanism NOT suburbanism. DRAFT GOLDSWORTHY!
Mrs. Goldsworthy talks about including the public. She speaks of the community’s vision, of public planning and of the city’s direction in deeply personal terms. She sounds like she knows how to listen, enjoys learning and isn’t timid about educating citizens.
And she does it all for $24,000 a year (or about 16% of the Shelby County Mayor or 14% of the Memphis Mayor). So I’d like her on my team… or I’d like to be on her’s. Plus we could offer her 10 times as much money to be Metro Mayor and still see a significant savings!
Put these principles in the new charter
I don’t know from where her opposition to consolidation comes but I think Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy must be a wealth of experience and knowledge. Persistence and vision. She has presided over a town with design and sign standards. She has managed a budget with techniques that sound masterful. She has handled investors that want to bend the rules, neighbors that don’t like meddling and jokes from outsiders… and in the process created Shelby County’s most sought after address. She hires strong people to help plan the future, manages a proud team and isn’t afraid to unload expenses that lead to tax increases.
She believes in her community as a place where you don’t ever have to say clean, safe and stable. Office investors want to be there, or close by. Residential investors make money there. Shops wait for storefronts to become available. Because, like it or not, Germantown in many ways sets the highest standard around here.
Isn’t this what most of us say that we want for Memphis and Shelby County every day? Don’t we all deserve this? Shouldn’t we all demand it?
I wish Sharon Goldsworthy would become an official advisor to the Charter Commission that is working on the consolidation issue. I wish they’d listen to her ideas and write some of them in the charter. Then maybe we all could go pull the lever for Sharon Goldsworthy to be our first Metro Mayor.