Familiar face returns to Warsaw politics as longtime councilman resigns
When he nominated Randy Phelps to town council last Thursday, Wayne Williams had made his last motion as a Warsaw councilman.
The former mayor and town resident vacated his seat at the close of the April 11 meeting, one month after he publicly announced his resignation from council and departure from Warsaw.
Williams is moving to North Carolina to be closer to his family.
“I thank everybody who has supported me, and Randy, may God have mercy on your soul,” Williams said, with his comment followed by laughter and then applause from council and the audience.
In Williams’ place, council welcomed Phelps as a returning member after considering other candidates for the position.
A former Warsaw councilmember from 2006 to 2008 and Richmond County supervisor until 2011, Phelps will assume the post until June 30, 2014, when the position is up for general election.
Phelps cited his desire to get back involved with the community as his main reasons for rejoining council.
When asked if he would seek election beyond his appointed term, Phelps said it was too soon to say, but that he probably would.
“I’ve had a long 18 months of sitting on the sidelines and I think I have a lot to offer,” said Phelps. “I’m not one who likes to be quiet, and I’ve missed it.”
He submitted a letter of interest to the town on April 2 requesting that his name be considered for the vacancy.
In his letter, Phelps shared his “keen sense of community and service,” as well as his hope that Warsaw and its citizens continue to strive for a better quality of life while never forgetting where they came from.
“I’m a conservative person by nature, but typically we haven’t used a lot of vision on how Warsaw grows and gets by,” said Phelps. “We’ve always said, ‘We’ve not done things like that before,’ and my question is, ‘Why not?’”
He said the town residents could still preserve who they were while taking huge steps forward and thinking outside the box.
“Just because we haven’t done something doesn’t mean we can’t,” said Phelps.
He stressed tapping into the experience of people in the community to chase grant opportunities for the town.
Phelps noted one ongoing effort by Warsaw to help the Rotary Club secure grant solutions for putting playground equipment in the town park, calling their work “outstanding.”
Noting that he was not one to withhold his opinions, Phelps shared his belief that “a person should speak his thoughts in a most professional manner and also be open minded to the differing opinions of others.”
Phelps currently serves as the Vice President of Retail Banking and Human Resources for Peoples Community Bank. Working from the Montross office, he supervises all five branches and also has a seat on the corporation’s executive committee.
In drawing on his previous work experience to assist him in his return to council, Phelps said he would rely on his understanding of a balance sheet.
“A lot of times you hear that government should be run like a business [and] in a lot of cases, that is true,” said Phelps.
”Sometimes things look good or they sound good in talking,” he added. “But when you put it down on paper and understand the financial impact, it may or may not be a good idea.”
Phelps placed emphasis on the town needing to work more closely with the Richmond County Board of Supervisors.
“There seems to be some disorganization on the board,” said Phelps. “I’m hoping that will change.”
As a former councilmember, Phelps, along with Williams and Town Manager John Slusser, participated in building the town’s state-of-the-art sewage and wastewater treatment facility.
“We were in the final stages of the planning and the financing, and we worked hard to find the grant solutions to fund the construction of the sewer plant,” said Phelps.
In returning to council, Phelps said he wanted to ensure that the Main Street Program and its members would continue to move forward.
He added that there were still a lot of things to do and several ways to contribute with ongoing work on the Warsaw Town Park and plans for annexing the former Warsaw Health Care center.
He praised Williams and council for having done an excellent job in recent years.
“Wayne Williams has some big shoes,” Phelps said. “I hope I do him service and honor by filling them.”