2nd Inaugural Speech
Dr. Richard L. Thurston
Town of Wappinger
January 4, 2020
Thank you for coming today. First, a special shout out to: (i) our residents who have shown great confidence in me; (ii) to our Wappinger staff and elected officials who have acknowledged my leadership and especially our mutual partnership; (iii) to my family for their support, patience, and understanding; and (iv) to my wife, Yvonne, my soulmate and my muse, for being there by my side for nearly 44 years.
“2020’ is not just a new year and the beginning of another decade, but those 4 numbers exemplify both accurate judgment and realistic assessment. Spiritually, the numbers 2020 also symbolize “huge potential”. Our responsibility going forward this year is to be accurate in our judgment and realistic in our assessments, to be true to nonpartisan convictions working for the benefit of the entire community and not just to a particular interest group, and to unlock Wappinger’s huge potential. Anything less than full and resolute teamwork and partnership to the betterment of our community will not be well accepted by our constituents. There is, no longer, any place for fabricated drama and tale spinning that will distract us from the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Jamil Qureshi once stated that “we must learn how to dance on a shifting carpet, not see the rug as being pulled from under our feet.” Too often, some people waste time over-calculating risks and in minimizing their losses. WE DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF TIME for hand wringing and procrastination!
I strongly agree with County Executive Marcus Molinaro that we must “think differently”. But, in Wappinger, we must also be about acting proactively and positively. In 1640, in the work Jacula Prudentusm, George Herbert wrote: “To him that will, ways are not wanting.” By the 1820s it had been altered to where there’s a will there’s a way. Throughout my career, I have lived by and will continue to be guided by this proverb.
Arising from the voices of our concerned residents, our will and way in Wappinger must focus on certain key initiatives, including:
• Creating an even more transparent and inclusive government, most especially through additional Town Code reform, and by establishing more diverse and inclusive membership on our respective Boards, committees, and volunteer activities;
• Ensuring and expanding the continued availability of quality Town water and sewer services – lest we forget, only ½ of our Town is now on Town-supplied water and sewer services. We must explore water and sewer interconnection options both with our neighboring communities, with Dutchess County, as well as through our partnership with New York City;
• Promoting more environmentally-sensitive policies, programs and initiatives such as by creating fully integrated park/trail planning, development, management, and facility remediation through a much more targeted “recreation fee’ allocation. And, we must implement “conservation pricing’ for our water/sewer rates and services;
• Promoting, more strategically, our small businesses, organizations, and historical hamlets through: (i) revisions to the relevant sections of our Town Plan; (ii) creation of historical overlays; (iii) expansion of sustainable development and promotion of “Wappinger” without the “s” (in other words “Wappinger Proud”); (iv) more interactive engagement with (a) our County such as by creating sustainable development infrastructure and services around the airport (I truly expect much help from Legislators Bolner, Cavaccini and Paoloni), and (b) cooperation with our neighboring communities such as our Village, and the Towns of Fishkill and East Fishkill (thanks to Matt Alexander, Nick D’Alessandro and Ozzy Albra);
• Addressing our Town’s growing transportation logjams through new infrastructure initiatives such as the County’s highway redevelopment of Old Hopewell Road, that is just beginning. More must be done on Routes 9 and 9D. We must add sidewalks and crosswalks along Route 9 , and we must find a way to interconnect our Town within Ward 4 between Route 376 and Robinson Lane.
• There are many more items on our list, but I would be remiss not to note our ongoing efforts to support our veterans, our residents with special needs, working with WCSD to better enable our youth; and better integrating within our community our 37 interfaith organizations.
Today, as we enter this new decade, the Town of Wappinger, in partnership with everyone in this room and many others, must embark on a forward looking journey that continues to be resilient, fiscally responsible, and exemplifies the spirit of working together in harmony, while continuing to achieve substantive accomplishments.
Before closing, may we bow our heads in a moment of silence for the safety of our young men and women who have been and are now being deployed to foreign lands …..
GOD BLESS THEM AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.
©Dr. Richard L. Thurston, 2020