Column: The first 100 days: Lessons in humility

Joe-SackWhen I was at Easter mass last month, the monsignor was heading up the center aisle, sprinkling holy water on the congregation with a traditional blessing. When he arrived at my family’s pew, he paused, looked at me solemnly, and said, “You need all the help you can get.” With that, I got an extra shake of the aspergillum aimed at my snout, much to the delight of my children.

Of course, on that joyous occasion in church, truer words were never spoken, especially since I embarked on my service as mayor, and I greatly appreciated the additional dousing.

After I took office in January, the Rye City Review commenced a semi-regular feature which was auspiciously coined “Joe Sack: The First 100 Days.”

Talk about pressure.

Despite the mildly flattering black-and-white rendering of yours truly, with a pensive and thoughtful countenance, I was very apprehensive about accomplishing anything noteworthy enough to qualify for such an expectation-laden column, let alone in a period of just a few short months.

Adding to my fear that I may not be able to live up to the hype, or do anything right, I began receiving all sorts of unsolicited, well-meaning—and usually accurate—criticism of even my most mundane actions, from my performance on the dais—“get rid of the commercial, name-brand water bottle next to you unless you have signed an endorsement deal”—to the way I marched in the Little League parade—“you should have been wearing a suit and tie, at the front of the procession, and waving to the crowd at all times.”

This flak was actually coming from my friends and supporters.

Less amicable folk also found time to compose odes on the bathroom walls of the local blogs. And then there were the stern words from one of my predecessors published in that other Rye newspaper.

Although, by and large, Rye’s former mayors have been nothing but gracious and generous in their encouragement and assistance.

On top of all this, I came in dead last in the high-profile elected officials’ NCAA tournament bracket. And last weekend, I had the dubious distinction of bringing up the rear in the YMCA’s annual Rye Derby.

Amidst all the hoopla and crossfire and minor struggles so far, my council colleagues and I have tried to stay focused on listening to our neighbors, communicating with each other, working together to achieve consensus and keeping our eyes on the big picture.

I believe this approach has laid the groundwork for some good results already, including at Rye Golf Club, where we stuck with an inclusive process to achieve wide buy-in to hire a new general manager. We also retained a new snack bar vendor and a new Whitby Castle caterer.

Time will, of course, be the ultimate judge of our success on these matters, and on the dozens of other issues both large and small, which will all vie for our priority and attention over the coming months and years, beyond the first 100 days.

Despite our best efforts, things will not always go smoothly, but we are off and running.

The Council Corner is a new bi-weekly column which will alternate amongst the seven members of the Rye City Council. The next installment, on May 16, will feature Deputy Mayor Laura Brett.