VOICES: Beginning my term as Kettering Mayor with infinite hope

Mayor Peggy Lehner walking with former Mayor Don Patterson. (CONTRIBUTED)

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Mayor Peggy Lehner walking with former Mayor Don Patterson. (CONTRIBUTED)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” When I think about earning the privilege to serve as Kettering’s Mayor, juxtaposed against the challenges our city, our country and the world has faced over the past two years, Dr. King’s words give me peace, strength and resolve.

We have, indeed, endured finite disappointment. Our children were tasked with learning remotely. Parents and working adults took on new responsibilities to maintain healthy households and productive work lives. Our senior population, people with compromised health and those with disabilities experienced isolation as care facilities and households quarantined. We’ve all felt the impact of the pandemic; and, although it will ultimately prove to be finite, the price many of us have paid, and will pay, is significant.

Even in the wake of two challenging years, I have infinite hope. Human kindness and ingenuity are ever present in the creative methods used to adjust and progress forward. Teachers and school administrators have done their utmost to offer students rewarding learning environments despite drastic and rapid changes. Businesses have implemented remote work options to keep employees healthy. Our public safety professionals, health care providers, military and other essential personnel do their best to stay healthy while keeping watch and working for all of us.

The camaraderie and understanding that continually emerge from those sacrifices proves our resilience as a community and our need for one another. We’ve learned that our relationships can withstand differences and bend just enough to persevere. We’ve seen humankind continue to prevail. We’ve witnessed the power of listening, stewardship and combining talents and resources to make a difference. Those lessons provide an incredible launch pad from which we will thrive and improve our communities.

As time marches on and we see the struggle left in the pandemic’s wake, it is time for all of us to join forces to ensure the children and their families have appropriate resources for their wellbeing. If children are struggling academically or psychologically as a result of the pandemic, my goal is to make sure that, as a city, we are doing our part to work with educators and school administrators to help make resources readily available and easily accessible.

As the work-from-home trend gains momentum, the City of Kettering is carefully strategizing and preparing for its impact on income tax revenues and developing incentives to attract and keep our residents and businesses. Ohioans pay municipal income taxes where they work, even if their workplace is at the kitchen table. As Mayor, it’s my job to make sure their kitchen table remains in Kettering! Our city offers great schools, wonderful parks, unmatched recreation programs and immeasurable community spirit. We are proud of the services and traditions we offer, and we will always consider new initiatives and resources for our residents, businesses and patrons.

Kettering is nearing 70 years old, and it has been groomed by City staff and strong leadership to age with grace. Because of this, my to-do list as Mayor will consist of maintaining and refining our current path while helping residents and businesses through the negative impacts of COVID. I am excited to engage with the people, determine needs, actions and deliverables. Most recently, the City utilized COVID-related funding for landlord/tenant rent assistance, to help with down payments and home improvements. We recognized the need, put a plan in action and delivered appropriate resources to help our residents.

I begin my term as Kettering Mayor with infinite hope. By working as a community, our City will continue to get stronger, no matter what finite disappointments we face along the way.

Peggy Lehner is a former state senator and the mayor of the City of Kettering.

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