Editor’s note: This is the text of City Commissioner Jim Sherow’s statement Tuesday that he would not seek re-election.
Mr. Mayor, I would like to take moment for a few words. I’d like to congratulate you on being the 97th individual to hold the office of mayor in Manhattan. I know that you, as do I, have considered it an honor to serve in this capacity.
Of late I have been thinking about the many others who have served before us. How many of us know the name of William Beverly, who was mayor when Manhattan became a city of the second class, or John Stiles, who served when Manhattan became a city of the first class? Or of Harold Westgate and J. David Arnold, who served during the trying times of the Great Depression? And do we even know who was the longest serving commissioner in the city? Samuel Charlson was. He served 20 years as Commissioner of Finance and Revenue from 1931 through 1951.
I don’t bring up these names to “stump the chumps,” but rather to point out that commissioners like Charlson played an important role in shaping this community. He helped guide work relief programs and coordinated scores of federal projects in the city, many of which still see use today such as Griffith Field. He was instrumental in building the airport and guiding the city through the trying times of World War II. He worked in partnership with the university to house large numbers of returning veterans who attended the university on the G.I. Bill. He participated in laying the groundwork for constructing the city building and auditorium that still serve our community. One of his last contributions was paving the way for the formation of a city manager-commission form of government. While we might not readily recognize his name today, we do know that there are working sewer systems, city pools, zoo facilities, park amenities, an airport, a city building and changes to city government that still bear his legacy of service.
Often forgotten names like Commissioner Samuel Charlson, and those of few hundred past elected men and women, serve as an inspiration for me. Most did their best to construct a community that served the public good. During my time as a commissioner, I have learned it is infinitely more difficult to preserve and build than it is to destroy. For me, it is enough to know that like a brick layer, I have served with crews to build upon a foundation that provides citizens with a better life. New city pools, the north-end redevelopment projects, a new zoo education center, jet service and the plans for an enlarged airport terminal, enhancement of regional cooperation through the creation of the Flint Hills Regional Council, improvements to Highway K-18, laying the foundation for NBAF, the building of a convention center and the dedication of the Flint Hills Discovery Center number among the more memorable undertakings that I lent a hand to.
This evening I am announcing to the community that I will not be seeking re-election as a city commissioner. It doesn’t concern me at all that in 150 or 50 years, or for that matter even in five minutes, if no one in Manhattan remembers that I once served as a commissioner and mayor. It is enough knowing that I played a role, as elected men and women have before me, in continuing the work of improving the lives of people living in our terrific city. I have done my best to serve the needs of this community for six years come this April, and now it is time for me to step aside and for others to have the privilege that I have so enjoyed.
Jim Sherow lives at 529 Pierre St.