1 Chronicles 12:32 talks about men who had an understanding of the times, and knew what Israel ought to do. As I reflect back on my time in public service, and the people that I served with, I think of this scripture. It is often difficult to see God in the now, but looking back it is almost always crystal clear to see how He has worked His will. Since my first position with Spring Hill in 2002, I have worked with 23 different Aldermen, and 5 Mayors. I wish I had room to talk about each of them, but since I don’t, I’ll limit my thoughts to the Mayors. I believe that each one was the best man for the job, at the right time for our City.
Mayor Ray Williams was a great defender of our city at a time when we had less than 7,000 residents. We were coming into our own and felt looked down upon by the neighboring municipalities. We started the initial stages of long range planning and came up with the first design standards. However, they did not go over too well in the development community. I’ll never forget during a planning commission meeting when one prominent commercial developer balked at the standards, and Mayor Williams stated, “If we tell you to paint it pink, and put wheels on it, that’s what you’ll do, or you can go somewhere else!” When he died 3 months short of finishing his term and retiring to Florida, Vice Mayor Brandon McCulloch, became Mayor.
Mayor McCulloch was always level headed and dealt with every issue from a common sense standpoint. He was the perfect bridge for those remaining months of 2005, when Mayor Danny Leverette won election.
During Mayor Leverette’s administration, the recession hit us hard, and the city was left in a bad financial situation. Mayor Leverette established the Budget & Finance Committee, and also hired the city’s first Finance Director. The hard work of digging out of the hole began, and much work towards that goal was completed by the end of his term.
Enter Mayor Mike Dinwiddie in 2009. The city was fast approaching financial stability, but still had some work left to do, and Mayor Dinwiddie’s leadership allowed us to get on a firm financial footing, and eliminate a lot of the debt. Commercial development was starting to come back, but there were many issues to address. Many builders and developers went bankrupt during the down years, leaving us with unfinished projects, unclear agreements, and general chaos. Under Mayor Dinwiddie, the public/private partnerships were perfected. As a result, projects like Commonwealth Drive, and Reserve Blvd were completed at very little cost to the city. Also, Mayor Dinwiddie was adamant that he could get a movie theatre in Spring Hill. Over a 2 year period, and objection from most of the BOMA, Dinwiddie managed to get the south gateway of the Crossings open. The immediate payoff for this was the movie theatre, and the longer term payoff was the rest of the development in that area.
When Mayor Graham was elected in 2013, the BOMA was somewhat fractured, and there were some ill feelings amongst the members. After a rocky first meeting, Mayor Graham’s “team first” approach caught hold. Over the course of the next 6 years, the BOMA functioned very well and was able to accomplish a lot of work for the city.
Each of these men were right for the time in which they served, and I consider it a privilege to have served along-side them. I am now looking forward to my new role with the Chamber’s Committee on Political Affairs (COPA). Our committee will work closely with local and state governments to develop and improve relationships, keep our members informed of issues and legislation that affects them, and to influence policies that favor the local business community.
Bruce Hull, 2019 Board Secretary and Chairman of the Committee of Political Affairs