The Town Manager’s resignation should sadden us all. Steve Hartford is a strong and capable leader who always had the best interests of the town at heart.
He and I did not always see eye-to-eye, but he has my respect and admiration. Having worked with the man for two years, I was regularly impressed by his poise, intellect and insightfulness.
The fact that he felt that resigning was the best course of action because he lost the support of the council is tragic. Steve is a valuable member of this community, and through his efforts and leadership has garnered respect at both the state and federal level.
Some fault him for the way he carried out his duties, but he is just a man and is capable of mistakes. The only difference is that he has a microscope pointed at his slipups and a very vocal group of people ready to shine a light on him and contest the wisdom of his actions.
If he has detractors that is only a natural outcome of being a man with vision, capability and a genuine desire to improve the world around him. As Woodrow Wilson said, "If you want to make enemies, try to change something."
Our Town Manager was constantly in motion and responsive to the needs of this community. Steve had his finger on the pulse of the town and was juggling an enormous amount of responsibilities and did so admirably. During all emergencies and through the day-to-day minutiae he was almost omnipresent and coordinated the efforts of the town with a cool head and clear mind. The ramifications of his departure will be far-reaching and felt by the town for years.
I am sorry we are losing so capable a man. I hope another town is wise enough to snatch him up.
The writer is a former member of the Westerly Town Council.