Longtime community activist Cathy Wright embarked on a new role after being sworn into the Belmont City Council Tuesday night.
Wright was appointed by the four other members of the City Council April 9 to fill the seat vacated when former mayor Christine Wozniak abruptly resigned Feb. 10.
She served eight years on the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District Board of Trustees before retiring in 2011 to focus on her kids, Wright said. Although her new role takes a broader focus, she hopes her previous experience will serve her well, Wright said.
“I’m very excited about it. It is very different and I feel like I’m learning a whole lot, just in these last couple of weeks and it’s a different challenge, but in the same vein. There are a lot of things that are similar, I’m only one decision maker in a body of five,” Wright said.
Wright said she had considered running for council at various points but the timing wasn’t right. But now that her oldest daughter is in college and the other is finishing up high school, she decided to interview for the position.
“I feel that it’s important to give back to a community that has given so much to my family and my children,” she said.
She loves living in a small town where her neighbors know her well and find her approachable and she looks forward to serving the community as a councilwoman, Wright said.
“When you’re in a policymaking decision role, I have to say it was probably one of the most rewarding jobs I ever had,” Wright said. “But at the same time, it was extremely difficult because when you’re making a policymaking decision and you’re making decisions for the community at large, there is not one thing you’re going to do to make 100 percent of the people happy.”
She refers back to her time on the school board where she faced heated and sometimes controversial debates over issues such as parcel taxes, bonds and district boundary lines.
“I learned pretty early on you kind of just have to stay the course and when I was making decisions that were in the best interest of the children in Belmont, then I was doing the right thing,” Wright said.
She looks forward to diving into city policy matters such as the council’s efforts to create a more centralized downtown, Wright said.
“I’m excited about this revitalization of the downtown area because the project started, or the idea when it first came to my mind, was when I was on the school board. So I’m excited to see some of the progress come to fruition,” Wright said.
She’s particularly interested in seeing how the Firehouse Square development will work out, Wright said.
Walking onto a council that in recent years was criticized for being contentious at times may be a challenge, but she plans on remaining true to her motto that working collaboratively sometimes means agreeing to disagree, Wright said.
“I think that people get elected for different reasons and they have their opinions and I wasn’t intimately involved in the council proceedings in the past and I have respect for all of the people who have served our community,” Wright said. “I just hope to bring a collegial nature to it, that’s all I can do. But I do have respect for everyone that’s sat in the seat before me.”
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