Weaverville – Citing a lack of daily interaction with the downtown community and his age, Al Root, mayor of Weaverville, is not running for his seat this year. I sat down with the mayor and discussed his decision over breakfast this past week. You can read that article on page 4.
While I can see that a lack of everyday involvement in the community might hinder being mayor, the citing of his age is the least of his disqualifying attributes. Just ask Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun. Age means wisdom and that’s certainly what our society seems to need in this modern age.
As a reporter, I’ve covered nearly all of Root’s time on the council, except for about five years. I have observed enough to tell you the town is losing a good leader who deeply cares about his community. Root rarely lets anything openly shake him and exercised Soloman-like wisdom.
I have not always agreed with him or some of his decisions, just as, at times, he has taken issue with some of our coverage and has said so publically. Root takes the time to listen to his constituents, studies issues facing the town and offers guidance to the board based on sound thinking and reasoning.
During our breakfast meeting, the mayor made an observation that hit home and made me realize the gravity of this year’s election. He pointed out that no one is left from the 1997 council except Dottie Sherrill and himself. This means years of experience between the two will be gone from the board after the election this year; both Sherrill and Root are not running in this year’s election.
It also means that, except for Councilman Doug Jackson, the board will have a generational shift to a younger group of leaders. That is barring no one else chooses to run for office, and as of this writing, no one has. Friday, July 16 at noon ends the sign-up period.
Root’s understanding of what has been and will be the town’s biggest issue – future growth and how to control it – is correct and will face the town council members at every turn. Fitzsimmons, who is poised to take Roots place, would be wise to listen to any of his sage advice he may offer.
I, for one, will miss Root’s concise and friendly, business-like manner of conducting town business mixed with his occasional interjections of dry humor at the proper place and in the appropriate measure. Anyone who has not observed Root at work on the council may want to visit one of the handfuls of meetings he has left as the mayor.