Reardon bids farewell at State of Rhinebeck dinner

Rhinebeck village mayor Jim Reardon gave an emotional farewell speech at a Rhinebeck Area Chamber of Commerce dinner Jan. 30, one day before he left office.

The chamber’s annual “State of Rhinebeck & Good Egg Award” dinner was held at the Beekman Arms.

In addition to Reardon, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Senator Terry Gipson, Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner, and Town Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia addressed the attendees.

In his speech, Reardon recalled both struggles and successes during his tenure and thanked many people for their hard work and dedication before concluding: “When I began this journey seven years ago, I made a pledge…. It is a pledge that I live by: Give everything you do everything you’ve got, every minute of every day. To that I can say, mission accomplished.”

Reardon resigned Jan. 31 in the middle of his third term to take a job with the National Rifle Association.

The chamber’s Good Egg Award, which recognizes an individual who personifies community spirit and community service, was given this year to a couple: Linda and Ward Stanley.

The Stanleys, who used to run the Veranda House B&B, are both members of the Dutchess County Democratic Committee and volunteers at Wilderstein.

Linda Stanley, a former member of the village board and Chamber of Commerce, currently serves on the boards of the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, Rhinebeck at Home, Wilderstein Membership Committee and Quitman Resource Center for Preservation.

Ward Stanley, a former member of the village planning board and Hudson River Heritage board, currently is on the village Zoning Board of Appeals, is an instructor at Bard’s Lifetime Learning Institute and volunteers in the chamber’s Information Booth.

An excerpt of Reardon’s speech appears below.

Eight years ago, if you had said to me I would be standing here tonight, I would have said, I think you need to see a doctor. I had never considered holding public office and quite frankly didn’t care for politics, a fact that still remains seven years later.

When I was asked to run for office, I made a decision to do so based on the fact that I saw a community that was politically charged, divided, and not much being accomplished. I … decided that I had two choices: either be involved and bring about positive change or sit back and keep my mouth shut. The fact that I stand here tonight makes it obvious what my decision was.

The first two years in office were very trying. The fact remained that there was a board that was not committed to working together, making decisions and attaining tangible results. However, with me, quitting is never an option. Any good leader will tell you you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. …Enter Wayne Rifenburgh, Howie Traudt, Terry Gibson, Brant Neuneker, Heinz Sauer and Heath Tortarella. Every one of these gentlemen has served with distinction, and I hope the residents of this village understand how lucky they are.

As mayor, I have tried to lead by example. My parents instilled in me at a very young age the value of hard work. I also was taught to be honest. … As mayor, I have tried to set a positive tone. Positive leadership brings about positive results…As mayor and as trustees, we need to be willing to face the difficult issues no matter what they are. Fairgrounds Zoning, Events Code, sidewalk issues, infrastructure repairs, drainage problems, Police Station construction, NDH expansion all come to mind. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words and we were voted into office to deal with these issues. We have tackled them all.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of General Colin Powell once said that when it comes to leadership and decision-making, too often people waste time and energy by trying to find all the answers and come up with the perfect plan. Clearly, there is no such thing, so don’t waste your time. In reality, you only need 75 percent of the information to make an informed decision. In other words, don’t over-think it. Make a decision and move on to the next challenge. That is how I have operated.

I have never been afraid to say what needs to be said and political ramifications never guided my decision-making. I know I have ruffled some feathers, but quite frankly, sometimes feathers needed ruffling. Another trait taught to me by my parents is stand for what is right even if you stand alone. People need to hear the truth. So often, people lose sight of the big picture. We are a community and need to come together as one. The residents, the businesses, the fairgrounds, the hospital and not-for-profits, we are all pieces of a complex puzzle that is the Village of Rhinebeck. Remove one and the puzzle is incomplete.

Sometimes people need to be reminded of that fact. This village needs to grow and prosper and grow smart. When we work together, that will happen; if we divide, we will fail.

I would be remiss if I did not offer thanks to all those individuals I have been involved with during my tenure. To Gail Haskins, Lisa Biscardi, Pat Coon, Krissy Denu, Karen Macfarlane, Trisha Giacalone, all the village employees in all the departments, the planning and zoning boards, Justices Sanchez and Kane, Klara Sauer and the members of the Pedestrian Task Force, John Wirth and the members of the Events Code Steering Committee, Gary Kenton and the members of the Solid Waste Task Force, the Tree Commission, my colleagues at Rhinebeck Chamber of Commerce, my colleagues at Rhinebeck Farmers Market, my colleagues at Rhinebeck Rotary, Matt Linnick and the crew at Running Away, Jeanne Fleming, Lila Pague, Pat Sexton and the Sinterklaas Crew, Andy Imperati, Dick Weckesser, Lou Ruge, Bucky Coon and Neil Wilson from the Fairgrounds, the Rhinebeck Fire Department and the Rhinebeck Police Department, Village Attorney Rich Olson, Village Engineer Nancy Clark, Joe Kirchhoff and Warren Temple Smith. Thank you all for your hard work, dedication and support throughout the years. I will never forget.

Thanks to the people of this community that put their trust in me to be their mayor. It has been an incredible seven years and the most rewarding time of my life. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve.

Special thanks to Wayne Rifenburgh, Howie Traudt, Terry Gibson, Brant Neuneker, Heinz Sauer, Heath Tortarella, Henry Campbell and Pete Dunn. You have all been individuals that I could count on without fail. Without all of you, none of this would have been possible.

Lastly, thanks to my best friend, my son, Jay, for always believing in me and for being a sounding board when I needed one.

It is my hope that I have played a small part to insure that young people … will be able to remain in this community they grew up in, have the ability to earn a living, raise families, and still have the quality of life we are all so fortunate to enjoy.

…These are challenging times. We are faced with the worst economy we have seen in our lifetimes. They are times that demand bold leaders, making bold decisions and taking bold actions. My time is done. To Howie, Brant, Heinz and Heath I say, this community now looks to you for this leadership. My hope for you is that you are able to carry on this tradition we have established and that is; work tirelessly as a thoughtful, cohesive and dedicated board that addresses the needs of this community, damn the politics. My money is on you.

When I began this journey seven years ago, I made a pledge. Again this is something instilled in me by my parents. It is a pledge that I live by: Give everything you do everything you’ve got, every minute of every day. To that I can say, mission accomplished.

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