By Kevin Kelley
A sign given to Mayor Eileen Patton by a retired employee that states “Live, love, laugh and learn” hangs in her office at Fairview Park City Hall.
“Over these past 12 years, these four words have guided me carefully through the ups and downs of public service,” Patton said Saturday in remarks after she took the oath of office to begin her fourth term as mayor. The oath was administered by the mayor’s son, Owen, an attorney. Patton defeated former Fairview Park police officer Richard Deem, 73.2 to 26.8 percent in the Nov. 8 general election.
At the ceremony in the community room at the Gemini Center, Patton said she lives every day thankful for the opportunity to lead the city. She said she loves the visits she makes to the senior center and visits made to City Hall by schoolchildren wanting to learn about the city government. She said she laughs with municipal employees about some of the crazy things that happen at City Hall offices.
But most importantly, Patton said, she appreciated the chance to learn something new every day.
“Over these 4,380 days in office, I have learned about eminent domain and demolition of motels, reconstructing parks, maintaining perfect streets, working with private owners in the redevelopment of shopping centers and office complexes, delivering excellent city services and building a strong relationship with our schools,” Patton said.
Patton said the progress in the city during her three previous terms was a team effort among city employees, the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce, the Fairview Park City Schools and the residents.
Saying that open and responsible government requires checks and balances, the former Ward 1 councilwoman gave particular recognition to City Council. Describing the many hours of work council members devote to their jobs, Patton said they are “public servants 24 hours a day.”
“When I first took office as mayor, I made it a priority to always make myself available, and the administration, at all times, to this outstanding legislative body,” the mayor said. “They have partnered with us on all the important decisions that we’ve had to make over the years.
“I respect their opinions and their determination in making our city the best it can be,” she added.
Council members, including newcomers Brian McDonough, representing Ward 1, and Paul Wojnar, of Ward 3, were also sworn in Saturday. For the first time in the city’s history, council members will be beginning four-year terms rather than terms of two years. In November 2009, voters passed, by a 67 to 33 percent margin, a City Charter amendment extending council members’ terms to four years. The Charter Review Commission concluded council members had to run and raise money for a re-election campaign too frequently.
The mayor said council and her administration share goals and visions in economic redevelopment, prioritizing infrastructure needs and providing excellent municipal services over the next four years.
“All of us have the drive. All of us have the passion,” Patton said. “And we promise to keep on track, and we thank our residents for making Fairview Park their home.”
Patton acknowledged that she has not yet mastered the ideal balance between family and work.
“But then my kids bought me a crock pot, and life seemed to get a little bit easier,” the mayor joked.
Patton also thanked city residents for celebrating with her the many joyous events of recent years that have happened to her, her husband, Jim, and their four children, such as graduations, a wedding and the birth of a grandson.