Mayor Glyn T. Willis followed through on aspiration to serve

Published 5:17 pm Friday, December 30, 2022

Glyn T. Willis, whose term as Windsor mayor concludes at the end of the calendar year, recently took the time to reflect on his four years in office.

Asked why he applied to be on the ballot for mayor in 2018, he has a ready and succinct answer.

“I was asked,” he said. “It’s really quite that simple.”

A HISTORY LEADING UP TO LEADERSHIP

Willis was born and raised in Windsor, graduating from Windsor High School. Then college and life took him elsewhere for 30 years.

He moved back to town in 2007.

“It was after my father had passed away,” he said. “We were living in California prior to that and came back and bought the house from my mom and moved back here.”

He now lives in the house he and his parents moved into in 1968 when he was 11.

After moving back, Willis served on the Windsor Planning Commission for a four-year term and then part of another.

“For a number of years whenever elections came up as I was on the Planning Commission, multiple times people came and said something to me about running for council,” he said. “Just due to my work schedule and a number of other factors, I didn’t. And in the situation of essentially 2018 and making the decision to run in 2018, a couple of people came to me and asked me to serve, and I made the decision that I would, if elected.

“It wasn’t any aspirations of greatness or anything like that,” he added. “It was an aspiration of serving, and some of that comes back to just some other things in my life and so forth of serving the community and serving in religious organizations, and stuff like that, that I recognized that that’s what I was supposed to do because I could help.”

Willis followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Leonard H. “Sam” Althin, who Willis estimated as having served as Windsor’s mayor from 1947-51.

“So you could almost say that there was a little bit of a heritage there in the family with my grandfather serving as mayor, not that that was a motivation to do it as much as a case of, like I said, I was asked, I felt that I could help and I served at the request of the town and just being able to do what I could,” he said.

A VISION AND APPROACH TO THE OFFICE

Willis noted that he sees the role of mayor in Windsor as being significantly different from that of a regular council member, partly because the mayor is a presider and an organizer of the council, yet the mayor seldom votes — only if there is a tie.

“I’m appreciative of the council that I got to work with, because in four years, we worked together to come to a consensus on things, and I did not have to vote in four years,” he said. “In fact, I don’t remember the exact number, but we only had a small number of votes in the four years — my recollection is less than a handful — that there wasn’t unanimous agreement on what we were doing.”

He explained his approach to the office of mayor.

“I made it an effort and tried to work with council to figure out, ‘OK, let’s listen to everybody, let’s come to a consensus on something and go forward on that,’ as compared to, ‘Let’s vote on something and then we all go our separate ways and we’re not necessarily working together on things,’” he said.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CHALLENGES

Willis said he has spent time in the past two months asking himself what he accomplished during his four years as mayor, and he has a different perspective on it that he then explained.

“My job was to lead and work with council, and council got things done,” he said. “So I would say my greatest accomplishment was to work closely with council so that they could move the town forward.”

He then delved into some specifics.

“There have been many challenges during the four years, between the (Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario) traffic stop, this year was still ending the year with (the Virginia) attorney general (lawsuit) issue,” he said, with the lawsuit being focused on the Windsor Police Department and spurring from the contentious traffic stop. “One year the focus or the challenge of the year was a juvenile justice facility that the state was looking to put right outside of town, and then we had the Confederate monument opportunity that was put in our path.

“So we’ve kind of had some big things going on from a challenge standpoint during the four years, but at the same time we’ve pushed forward,” he continued. “The council has been able to not let those keep us from getting things done, and they still push forward to get things done…”

As an example of getting things done, he mentioned the Public Works building.

“There haven’t been as many big projects, and a lot of that was just due to COVID,” he said, addressing another major challenge Windsor faced during his term in office. “I think navigating and providing some stability and so forth, the council did a good job of creating a stable environment and working through COVID, which consumed the better part of two years for us.”

Sharing what it meant to be able to serve as mayor in the town he was born and raised in, Willis said, “January the 1st, 2019, I was humbled to be there and serve the town, and now as I come four years later, I’m appreciative of that opportunity to do that.”