Departing Fruitvale Mayor Libby Nelson says her compassion for community and the driving force behind her reign as mayor, stems back to her childhood.
“I was brought up in a church family, with church values,” she said. “That is where my compassion for community comes from, that is where I learned the value of honesty, compassion and empathy.”
Since she has stepped down from the hot seat to make room for new blood, Nelson still hopes the amalgamation of Beaver Valley communities becomes a reality.
After all, this was first discussed in council chambers when she began her reign in 1996.
“It would be awesome to see that happen in my lifetime,” she said. “I don’t anticipate it happening too quickly but at least we have a study ongoing. My hope is that if something comes up, we will look at it again. Not only at the text but at the benefits it may provide the communities.”
A museum for the community is her dream project but without proper funding, she doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. Her list of hopeful projects, however, doesn’t outweigh the fact that improvements to aging infrastructure must continue.
“Getting everything up to good grade is very important for the community. We can only hope to chug along, road by road, because it gets very expensive,” she said. “The Hillcrest project alone cost (half a) million. A small community like Fruitvale can’t afford that expense often, without a jump in taxes.”
Looking back at her time as mayor, Nelson believes her greatest accomplishment has been moving from a boil-water advisory notice to the safety of a completed water treatment plant but also notes the renovations to the memorial hall.
For those who wish to get into politics, Nelson advises they “learn, learn and learn some more.”
“Make sure your values are good and honest, that is key, and essential,” she said. “Know that you will not be able to please everyone, learn to take criticism and if it is valid, act on it. If it seems as though someone is only having a bad day, do the best you can for them to help them have a better day.”
Although her reign as mayor is soon to end, Nelson admits she will miss it.
“There will be times of despair and sadness, I am sure, but I think it is time for me to move on,” she said. “I have enjoyed my reign and working with the community and the councillors – together we have accomplished a lot.”