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Mowery caps off Norton political career … for now

12/19/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Bill Mowery ended his long Norton City Council run Dec. 9.
Photo courtesy of the city of Norton
NORTON — Monday nights are going to be a lot different for Bill Mowery.

The longtime Norton City Councilman, who did not win re-election to his Ward 3 seat, is officially retired, as his last meeting was Dec. 9.

“It’s been really fun,” Mowery said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Mowery, 60, is a lifelong Norton resident who recalls attending City Council meetings as a child with his grandfather.

“Years and years ago, I remember going and how feisty it seemed to be even then,” he said. “But it was a friendly kind of feisty. It was basically a farming community. There was lots of corn in the fields out there.”

He entered the fray when he served on the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. He then ran for an at-large seat and won, beginning his service in 2000.

“I had been here all my life, and I knew so many people,” he said. “You try to say maybe you can get more involved with your community and help.”

He said his first term was chaotic.

“Right off the bat there was a lot of turmoil,” he said. “We spent a lot of time on Council just with recalls and intercouncil fighting. It didn’t seem like we got a whole lot done at all. We were doing a good job of putting a lot of ink in the paper and that’s about it.”

When ward terms were up two years later, he ran for the seat in his ward and won. But he said he didn’t see a lot of differences between the two roles.

“I’ve always said the same thing: You can help anybody in the city if you want to,” he said. “With your ward, you’re like a mother hen watching over your flock. You make sure things are happening the way they want it to. But [as Ward 3 Councilman] I’ve had calls from the first ward and the fourth ward. You represent the city, and you can answer anybody you choose to or tell them to call their ward Councilman. I always wanted to get involved.”

Despite the reputation of the city as being difficult politically, Mowery said people in Norton just want the basics.

“People want their lifestyle to be a quiet lifestyle with good schools,” he said. “In the time I was on Council, the people have never over-asked for anything. It’s been very easy to represent them. They want the basic things in life that keep things moving along. They don’t want you to change the world or reinvent the wheel.”

Looking back on his years in office, Mowery said he is proudest of his work to alleviate problems with a group home on Shellhart Road that had some issues a few years ago.

Regarding the issue of sewers in the Nash Heights neighborhood, Mowery said he wishes that more could have been done to help residents there, but he thinks that the upcoming project is a necessity at this point.

“There’s only so much Mother Earth is going to accept as far as sewage,” he said. “[The project] is not going to go away. It’s going to catch a lot more speed now. Back when they built those homes, the codes and requirements were not as stringent. As a plumber, I see that. There are things you could do last year that you can’t do this year.

“It isn’t going to get any cheaper,” he added. “There’s only so much money that is available nowadays. At one time, there were grants and aid, but I think we missed the boat as far as getting out and getting those.”

Mowery ran in subsequent years for re-election and always made a point to get out and visit constituents by going door-to-door. But for the Nov. 5 General Election, that was something he didn’t do. He ended up coming in third behind winner Dennis Pierson and former mayor Joe Kernan.

“This time I felt like I have so many different things going on, and I’m 60 years old,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to let other people serve.”

He added that he believes voters, who also voted two other incumbents out of office, were just interested in a clean slate.

“People in general wanted a whole washout and to bring in new faces to try anything to shake it out a bit,” he said, adding that he wasn’t surprised he didn’t win.

He will miss Council, but with two jobs — at the Norton Acme and his own plumbing company — he has plenty to do, he said.

But Mowery, who ran for mayor in the Democratic Primary Election in 2007 (when the city had partisan elections), doesn’t rule out running for mayor again. The current mayor is Mike Zita, a former Councilman who, like Mowery, works at the Norton Acme. Zita has two years left in his term.

“The next step would be running for mayor,” Mowery said. “I’m going to see how Mike handles it. Mike’s a lot like me. We’re average grocery stock boys, but common sense will get you a lot in the city.”

He added he would advise the new Council members to always remember who it is they work for.

“You don’t have to have a super relationship with each other, but you have to have a good relationship with the people in the city,” he said.

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