Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Local News

September 4, 2013

Former councilman reflects on service

People, community created a worthwhile tenure for Riddle — Admiration for those who step up and do something to better their community instead of just complaining about it will never be an unwelcomed commodity, but just as important is making sure one’s needs aren’t lost among the good deeds.

Such was the case for former Pauls Valley Mayor and Councilman Billy Riddle, who through 17 years of service always was pushing to make sure the people’s needs were taken care of, even if it meant a few personal sacrifices along the way.

From his days as a member of the planning and zoning board to the more than two terms as an elected official, it was a balancing act that usually paid off and only recently when he realized the time had come when he no longer felt confident juggling said responsibilities.

“I put in my time, wanted to finish, but it just didn’t happen,” said Riddle.

“It was time to get my priorities back in line.”

Though it was not one thing that led to Riddle ending his tenure, one item that ended up being the turning point toward it was the added weight of dealing with keeping the hospital doors open.

Ultimately it wasn’t until a recent bout of illness that he even had a moment to fully grasp that the time had come as hard as it was and during that he made the move with the resignation.

“The hospital on top of everything else made it more demanding,” said Riddle, noting again how all of the increased time away from his other responsibilities was not beneficial to everything from his family life to efficiently running his business as a real estate appraiser.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things to deal with.”

However, despite this, he is thankful to have served as long as he did and said much of it was motivated so long because of connections that come from growing up here and working along with his parents who have ties going back to 1969.

He feels quite a few things were accomplished since there has been quite a bit of continuity with his fellow government officials.

“I grew up dealing with the general public,” said Riddle. “I assumed people were satisfied because they never signed up to run against me.”

Some of the things Riddle was most proud of during his time on the council was seeing a new fleet of vehicles for the employees here, seeing the Longmire Lake note paid off three years ahead of time and various other accomplishments for the new locations for the police and fire departments.

He often preferred not to be the focus of attention and believes he never brought about any of these things on his own with credit given to everyone else first.

“This was not an I project, this was a we project…I am not better than any city employee or anyone else out there,” said Riddle

“You had a lot of other people making these decisions… People need to understand the citizens are not going to agree with every decision we make, but we have to take the whole city into account.”

Riddle, who continues to be shocked with compliments for the work he has done, noted that he will not seek to get back on the council in the future, but still wants to be available if he can help even if it is providing information or advice. The most he might consider in the future would be on one of the other community boards where there is shortage in participation.

As a proponent of speaking with action, he believes the only way the city will be able to prosper and keep things running smoothly is if more individuals step up to relieve those who have already given so much.

Riddle still plans to fully support a hospital tax, which should be an agenda item at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

“If people don’t get involved we are wearing out the same group of people,” said Riddle.

“There is still a lot to be done.”

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