WAXHAW – Before swearing in a new mayor and new board members Dec. 10, departing members on Waxhaw’s Board of Commissioners bid farewell and reflected on their time serving the town.
Candace DeFinis said although her term was short, she was proud of what she and the board were able to accomplish in the six months she served as commissioner. She said they were able to review and approve zoning requests, approve ordinances and create a transparency policy.
DeFinis said there were more things she would have liked to do, but they were “put on pause by other distractions that needed to be addressed.” She said moving forward, she hopes the board appreciates diversity in thought and once a decision is made, she hopes the board will move forward in support of that decision.
She also encouraged Waxhaw citizens to get involved in the town’s happenings as they are “the largest and most critical part of our puzzle.”
Brenda Burns, who served on the board for four years, said many decisions were made in her term that were not easy. However, she said all of the decisions she made were with citizens’ best interests at heart.
Burns said she appreciated debating and collaborating with the board and said she felt good about what she had accomplished. Though she was not reelected, she recently learned she will be a grandmother and is excited to move into a new phase of life. She will continue her service to the town.
“As I continue my volunteer work in a different direction, my hope for Waxhaw is that all decisions by all future boards … will be made with the citizens of our community as a priority,” Burns said.
Former mayor Stephen Maher said writing his parting remarks was difficult because of “too many recent situations where hurtful, untrue things were said over the last couple of months about the town to other people and the town’s work was judged based on those statements.”
However, he said as an elected official, he has taken the high road and focused on his accomplishments. Maher thanked the board and staff for their commitment to Waxhaw. He cited examples of the town maintaining its “small-town moments.”
As he prepared to leave office, Maher asked town staff how they thought he did. He said their response was the highest compliment he could have received.
“They shared, ‘You were our champion. You took what you were given and made Waxhaw a place with a vision and for all of our challenges and even all of our flaws, Waxhaw has recognized that we’re striving to move forward in an intentional manner. You gave us hope that we are truly becoming the town our vision statement describes,’” Maher said.
Maher offered advice to Ron Pappas, suggesting the new mayor keep the town informed in person, rather than on social media. He told the incoming board that changing their attitude toward their work makes the biggest difference.
“We don’t have to do something; we get to do something,” Maher said. “And that simple change from ‘have to’ to ‘get to’ allowed me to realize what a sincere privilege it has been to get to serve the town of Waxhaw and its citizens.”