A week after the voters chose him to be the new mayor of Greensburg, Gary Herbert’s appointment book is busting at the seams.

There are many people to meet, things to learn and discussions to be had before January rolls around. This process, Herbert noted, started almost immediately. He said there was little time to revel in victory before the reality of what transpired at the polls hit.

“(It sunk in) that night when I came home, laid down in bed and said my prayers,” Herbert said. “I have to change my hats. It’s not just the district anymore (I’m representing). It’s the whole city of Greensburg.”

That idea left him with a huge set of responsibilities and some great expectations set by the people who chose him to lead the city. During his campaign, Herbert made it apparent he wanted to involve the people in the process of government in ways they had never known before. It’s a pledge he will take seriously, he said, when he moves into City Hall.

“I’m going to do what the people wanted to be done and what they want to be done in the future. I will do that to the best of my abilities. Am I going to make everyone happy all the time? No, but I’ll try to do what the majority wants,” he said.

In order to ensure those voices are heard loud and clear in council chambers, Herbert wants to create a Mayor/Council Advisory Committee. It will be comprised of regular citizens who will be able to keep their fingers on the pulse of Greensburg. For Herbert, the rationale behind it is simple.

“If you want to know what’s going on at the factory floor, you ask a worker down there. You don’t ask the man in the second-floor office,” Herbert said.

Protecting the citizens’ right to be heard is part of his new agenda. He said he wants to pay close attention to them as well as city employees, both of whom he describes as the backbone of Greensburg. For city employees, he wants to create an advocate position in each department to speak on their behalf.

Herbert also plans to take a good, hard look at every appointment in each department and on every board. He said he’ll do his homework and find out the specifics of everyone’s performance. Many of the boards and departments were filled with people by the previous administration, but Herbert said that doesn’t matter to him.

“Politics are not a factor in their jobs,” he said.

He doesn’t anticipate a huge shake up; although he’s keeping an open mind. For instance, it is “not likely” he would replace all five members of the Tax Incremental Financing Board, he said. Given the “critical” nature of the Lincoln Street project, experience will be needed. The same goes for the Area Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals; both of which must help the city grow in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan.

As for the department heads, while he encourages interested parties to apply, he will not ask for a resume from each leader, such as Fire Chief Scott Chasteen, Police Chief Bill Meyerrose and Water Superintendent Rick Denney.

“They want those jobs and they should keep them. I don’t know if there’s really time to put someone new in those roles giving the difficulty of the transition,” Herbert said. “From what I’ve heard, those guys are doing a great job. People like them, the employees are happy, but everything can be improved.”

While Herbert has quickly begun thinking ahead, he can’t help but be effected by the results of Nov. 6, which have left him humbled, elated and a little sad. He said he doesn’t intend to leave current Mayor Frank Manus behind. He plans on trying to involve him in every meeting he holds between now and January, even if he has not yet made the call to City Hall. Thursday’s council meeting was the first time the two had spoken since election night.

“I’m going to do my best to get Frank involved. I don’t want to leave him on the sidelines,” Herbert said.

He noted he felt a chill in the air between the two men the night of the election, and he does not want that to harm the city. When looking at the whole thing from Manus’ perspective, Herbert said he could sympathize.

“I know he loves that position and the people. Frank loves being the mayor, and I took that away from him. I feel bad about it,” Herbert said. “I understand how Frank feels. When I get beat, I don’t like it, but that’s what the people wanted. I will do my best to make this transition as smooth as possible. It’s not about us. It’s about the citizens of Greensburg.”

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