Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Public Service Reminder From Erica Batdorf

Monday night was Assistant Borough Manager Erica Batdorf's last meeting.

If she hasn't already, she will shortly take the helm of West Vincent's Township government, a smaller staff for sure, but likely one that comes with its own challenges.

Before she left, Batdorf read a prepared statement before borough council with some messages that bear repeating.

Chief among her points was first among them as well, and too often forgotten -- for some people, "public service is a calling."

And at the local government level, it provides the greatest opportunity "to effect change."

Pottstown born and educated, Batdorf, known as Eric Weekley before her recent marriage, was the ultimate local, serving the town that had raised her.

"Growing up in Pottstown was one of my greatest gifts," Batdorf told council.

And her loyalty was evident as she talked about what that gift gave her.

"In Pottstown, despite a challenge, we adapt, improve and endure, and I learned at a very young age to be resilient" she said. "What I found is that resilience breeds determination."

Considering that Batdorf began as an intern and worked her way up, she would seem to know whereof she speaks.

Recalling the preserved (and exposed) Bethlehem Steel beams in the Steel River Playhouse, Batdorf said it is this blend of respecting and honoring the borough's past and using it as a platform to launch our future that will ensure revitalization will succeed.

Let us hope she's right.

"I have learned projects sometimes take months ... or they take 15 years," she said with a knowing glance at Public Works Director Doug Yerger, who has the sad task for reporting to council every couple of months about the latest delay in PennDOT's long-promised "closed loop" traffic system.

What such realities taught her, she said, "is that you must remain fiercely persistent in pursuing your goal."

But perhaps the most important thing Batdorf said, in my opinion, was this simple statement:

"I've learned that leadership is not position. It is state of mind."

There can be no greater lesson to learn in public service.

Here is the video of Erica's full statement. We wish her well in West Vincent.

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