Taking Care of City Business
In the top image, Barron Williamson, left, and Stewart Hoffman — RailWorks area managers who use their time off the clock to serve as city councilmen.
Barron Williamson and Stewart Hoffman
RailWorks Track Systems
Airway Heights, WA, and Durant, OK
A couple of RailWorks managers are using their leadership skills to help govern their communities.
Discussions with Barron Williamson and Stewart Hoffman about their city council roles are peppered with words like “contribute,” “do something” and “give.” Both Barron, area manager out of RailWorks Spokane, WA, office and Stewart, area manager in Texas, are taking action to improve the places where they live.
Barron moved to Airway Heights, a few miles west of Spokane, in 2006. He became acquainted with the mayor, who asked Barron to join the city planning commission. “He knew that I managed a construction company and thought it would be good for me to be on the planning commission,” Barron says. Four years on the planning commission helped Barron discover that he liked being involved in his community. He’s now halfway through a four-year term on the city council.
Barron has brought RailWorks-honed skills such as familiarity with contracts and with bidding and grant application processes to his role with the city. He’s also able to offer advice regarding maintenance of the city’s equipment fleet.
For Barron, his level of involvement is a mixed bag. “It’s very rewarding. I’m not a naysayer who just stands back. I’m actually trying to do something.” Yet he acknowledged that going to the weekly city meetings can be a challenge after a long day of RailWorks responsibilities. In addition to attending council meetings, he participates on four committees.
Along with these two large jobs, Barron holds the job of husband and father. His wife Tara and 2-year-old son, Tripp, inspire his civic participation. “If I’m going to raise my family here,” he says, “I’m going to do all I can to better it.”
Bringing RailWorks experience to bear and balancing multiple roles mirrors what Stewart is undertaking in south-central Oklahoma. Stewart – a lifelong Oklahoman but for five years in Texas – grew up near Durant, where he lives with wife Sarah and kids Kane, 8 and Kira, 5. He was elected to Durant’s city council last April to a four-year term, defeating a two-term incumbent by about 61 percent of the vote.
Stewart’s civic involvement originated, as like Barron’s did, at the mayor’s encouragement. Stewart first served on the Board of Adjustment and then the Planning and Zoning Committee, each for two years, before running for council. He is among five council members who gather monthly for the city council meeting. Besides creating local policy and overseeing budgets, council members act as trustees for the Durant City Utilities Authority and Durant Development Authority.
Stewart likes “being there for the people of the city” and providing a unique perspective. “I give an alternate look at things on the council, as the other members are not in construction or don’t run big businesses.”
Is it too soon to think about re-election?
“In two years, if I feel that I can still contribute and help, of course I’ll entertain running again” says Barron. As for Stewart, he concedes that “If I had to decide today, then yes.”
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