PHOTO: Mayor Rick Graham (right) congratulates and thanks Chad Whittenburg (left) for his years of dedication and service to the city of Spring Hill during Monday night’s meeting / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Chad Whittenburg dawned a green reindeer headband, antlers and all, during his final meeting as a Spring Hill Alderman Monday night, thanking his colleagues, his wife, and the city at large for the opportunity to serve his community.
Whittenburg, who served on the Budget & Finance Committee, the Transportation Advisory Committee, the Battlefield Task Force and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, said he had calculated roughly how many hours he had been in various public meetings.
“In ten years, that’s almost 50 full days – 1,200 hours – that was mind-boggling to me,” Whittenburg said. “Was that worth it? I would say absolutely yes. I wouldn’t take any of it back.”
During the meeting, Whittenburg’s fellow aldermen all took turns expressing their gratitude for his service and dedication to the city.
“I’ve considered you a friend all these years, and we’ve battled it out like the best,” said Alderman Amy Wurth. “I’m just so appreciative of your friendship, and your guidance here on this board. You’re going to be missed.”
“You have truly been a big part of Spring Hill’s growth,” said Alderman Susan Zemek. “We certainly haven’t always agreed, but when I first started thinking about running, you were there with a lot of encouragement and a lot of advice about getting thick skin, which, according to Facebook, you really have a lot of thick skin. No one knows what it’s like to be in the arena, so whether people agree with you or not, you are a warrior, and we do appreciate that.”
Whittenburg thanked his fellow board members for their encouragement and support, but also brought up a pertinent issue the city has been facing for years.
“We have an issue right now in this city, and you know what the issue is – we are vitally underfunded to do the capital projects that we need to do across all spectrums of this city,” Whittenburg said. “That is not just on our citizens to bear that, that is on everybody that pays to play in Spring Hill.”
Whittenburg continued his point by making a call for city staff not to succumb to public pressure, but instead to always vote their conscience, and what they believe to be best for Spring Hill.
“What’s that going to take?” Whittenburg asked. “That’s going to take this board doing the things that are not going to get you re-elected. That’s going to take doing things that are unpopular. It’s going to take making the tough choices. You got up here to make a difference, and I have no doubt that you’re up here to do that.”
Mayor Rick Graham later presented Whittenburg with an honorary plaque, thanking him for his years of dedication to the city.
“I feel partly responsible for encouraging Chad to run many years ago, and he may hate me for it,” Graham said, laughing. “When Chad first got elected, I told him you’ve always got to vote your conscience – don’t rely on anybody else’s opinions to sway your vote, even mine. And boy, did he take me up on that one. Chad has definitely voted his conscience all through these years, he’s had a huge passion for this job and the role. We’ve seen his red hair flare a few times, but we’ve never doubted his love of Spring Hill, and his passion.”
A former Marine, Whittenburg has served the city in one capacity or another for more than ten years, joining the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in April of 2011.
“I know it’s cliche to say it, but we have absolutely got the best city staff that I believe any city could have,” Whittenburg said. “You all are great, and that has probably been one of the things I have enjoyed the most, is getting to work with professionals.”