New Palisade mayor faces leadership test
Roger Granat didn’t view his candidacy for Palisade mayor in the traditional sense. He wasn’t running on a platform or striving to separate himself from his opponents.
To him, he was there merely to give town residents an option.
“I haven’t had a feeling of victory, just a feeling of ‘OK, the people spoke, and they chose you, and now you’ve got to get on with the business of the town,’ ” the 68-year-old semiretired Palisade native said.
But with Tuesday night’s swearing in of the residents’ choice to replace ousted Mayor Dave Walker, Granat faces a number of important tasks for the mayor and other Palisade leaders.
For one, town leaders are negotiating with federal officials about replacing the sewer treatment system. Also, the town is preparing to enter 2011 with a newly opened Civic Center gymnasium but mindful of streets and sidewalks that are in poor shape in many spots, and of a fire station that needs replacement.
Perhaps most immediate is the job of bridging the divide precipitated by the recall and mending the bad feelings that accompanied it.
“I think the board is going to have a role (in that),” Granat said. “How big a role, I don’t know, but we’ve got to bring the town back into a cohesive unit because we’re all neighbors up here, and we have to be neighborly.”
Palisade town trustees split on their views of Walker and the recall and the effect it will have on the board.
“Now I don’t have to leave town,” Trustee Penny Prinster responded when asked for her reaction to Walker being recalled.
“I think it’s going to be a good thing. I just think it’s going to make the board, hopefully, a lot more stable,” she said. “I think (the board) is going to have to listen to the people and do more of what the people want instead of what (trustees) want.”
Though he wishes Granat well, another trustee, Art Silver, said he’s leery about the potential for a lot of turnover on the board. In addition to Walker’s departure, four trustees’ seats are up for election in 2012.
“With each of these changes comes a person who isn’t privy to the things that have been discussed the last few years,” Silver said. “It’s easy to say there’s going to be changes or that people want to go in a different direction, but I hope they know what that direction is and how they are going to get there.”
Trustee Michael Krueger said he was “very disappointed” with the recall and that it was a misuse of the process.
“This wasn’t a referendum on the board or what I think Dave has done on the board,” Krueger said. “There were some things that happened, unfortunately. It’s worrisome for me when you can recall somebody over disagreements that happen that aren’t related to the office but more of a personal dislike.”
Granat said he realizes he’ll have a bit of a learning curve but that his experience on the board will smoothen the transition. He served on the board from 1986 to 1995, including the last year and a half as mayor.
“I think we can’t underestimate how important it will be to get Roger up to speed on a number of projects, not the least of which is the sewer project,” Krueger said. “He’s going to have to spend a lot of time getting caught up. He’s going to have to spend some time doing homework.”
Granat will complete the remaining 18 months of Walker’s term.