Editorial: Jay Dean's great job as mayor sets a great path for the future
By Longview News-Journal
May 10, 2015 at 4:15 a.m.
Given the quality of candidates running for mayor, we were never worried for the future of Longview. Our city will be fine, and the future is bright after Saturday's election.
Still, Longview will sorely miss the leadership of Mayor Jay Dean, especially during the transition period to a new mayoral administration.
Dean has become the longest-serving mayor at least since Longview term limits began, serving an unexpired term and three full terms. It's a testament to his effectiveness that a city that elected then replaced many previous mayors kept Dean in office so long. That sort of ensconced leadership is difficult to replace, and it will not be replaced immediately, though Dean will do everything in his ability to make it so.
Our outgoing mayor's accomplishments are rock-solid physical and intangible. He has changed the attitude at City Hall and the landscape of Longview. If the next mayor can get half as much done as Dean has accomplished, he will have been successful.
His accomplishments include:
Early on, Dean brought a much-needed infusion of professionalism and decorum to council chambers and City Hall. That change helped pave the way for much progress.
He built close working relationships with Gregg County and other area governments and agencies that helped boost the spread of regionalism in East Texas. That's led to major projects such as the current expansion of George Richey Road across northern Longview, which will be transformational.
A series of town hall meetings in individual council districts helped Dean and other elected and appointed officials get to know the concerns of residents and businesses.
He has been a consensus builder on the council and in efforts across the city and region, working to solve differences before they became full-blown feuds and bringing people together to find ways to get things done.
An example of the success of his consensus building was a community-led process Dean put in place to formulate a plan and pass a streets bond issue that is changing neighborhoods across Longview.
He also shepherded the city through a sensitive discussion of the need for and formulation of a plan for building and operating an animal shelter. The successful process is leaving us with a first-class facility that will serve Longview for decades.
Dean has diligently attempted to put together a deal to bring a convention center to the city. Even if it never comes to fruition, the convention center is the kind of big thinking that helps a city find progress in other ways.
He listened to criticism without being overly sensitive or taking offense, and almost always used the input to work toward common ground and progress.
Dean pushed efforts to complete a forward-thinking comprehensive plan, built on broad consensus, that provides Longview a solid roadmap for the coming decades. It now is up to subsequent mayors to follow the map, which truly represents the voice of our city.
Finally, he took his trademark businesslike approach to react strongly to violence earlier this year in Longview by analyzing the data then requesting real changes in attitude and procedure from the police department. It's too early to tell how lasting the changes will be, but we have been impressed by what we're seeing.
That's our list, and it's not all-inclusive. Others probably could cite just as many positives in a completely different list.
For all of these things and more, we owe Dean deep gratitude for the job he has done leading Longview. Our hope is that he is not done with public life. We would like to see Dean take on another elected role in the future. Based on what we have seen him accomplish as mayor, we have no doubt we would all be the better for Dean's continued public service.