Condoleezza Rice said, “There’s no greater challenge and there is no greater honor than to be in public service.” Over decades, many others have talked about the importance and significance of public service.
This year has not been easy. But city employees have shown how dedicated they are to our hometown. Through the early days of the unknown, they kept responding to calls and continued answering the phone to get people the information they needed. They helped people deal with every aspect of the pandemic when residents and businesses were unsure where to turn.
I always say the world is run by those who show up. Well, this year, and every year, our city employees show up. Whether it be taking on the extra tasks of running our testing and vaccine outreach, or making sure that all aspects of government continued running smoothly, they represent the definition of what it means to serve one’s community, and for that I will always be grateful.
Last week, we lost our City Comptroller, John Richard. I’m sorry more people did not get to know John the way we did at City Hall. His love for sports and a good political story, his dedication to his wife and his three girls — never missing one of their games where he would enthusiastically share his “advice” with those officiating — and his lifelong love of learning.
You have often heard me say that Leominster is not kicking the can down the road for future generations. John was a huge part of helping lead that effort. Were the financial decisions he recommended always popular? No. But together we made decisions that were and are right for the short-term and long-term health of Leominster. John helped lay the fiscal foundation that we will carry forward as we build a new police station, construct the new athletic fields behind the high school, and take on a host of other capital projects — all without raising taxes. Just last week, a community often used as a comparison city to Leominster passed a $9.5 million override just to help balance their budget. Paying cash for capital projects, paying off projects in 10 instead of 20 years, and our strong commitment to fully funding our pension system are accomplishments that, although they may have served as political lightning rods, have been applauded across the spectrum of public and private think tanks.
Thank you, John, for helping build a strong financial future for the City of Leominster. Our thoughts and prayers will always be with you and your wonderful family.
Memorial contributions in Richard’s name may be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, St. Joseph’s Church, 49 Woodland St., Fitchburg, MA 01420. A memorial guestbook is available at lcafh.com.