As he finishes up two years, Trustee Seth Ross, 58, has his sights set on another two years on the dais.
“What I’ve learned was really more of what I generally knew,” he said. “You acquire a depth of understanding when you’re actually in the decision-making body.”
Ross specifically pointed out fiscal responsibility as the overriding issue.
“People are entitled to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” he said. “That’s a real theme in government, and I think we have a good roadmap from the past that has been a very well-run village.”
Though Ross acknowledged the high taxes, he said they’re justified by the quality of the services and the amenities in the infrastructure. As he learned more about the services and amenities, he said, he also learned the mechanics of how it all happens and how it becomes a reality.
In the last two years, environmental initiatives have been among the prime examples of the undertakings of the board, in part due to community support.
Though he has served as a trustee on a board with varying opinions and ideas, Ross said there haven’t been any surprises. But, he added, there’s always a need for discussion and collaboration.
“You do see opinions that you believe are widely held and have already achieved consensus [but] really haven’t… and I think we tend to agree on the things we need to do,” Ross said. “Sometimes that’s harder than expected.”
But that sort of back and forth on the board is part of another lesson.
“It’s a matter of being open,” Ross said. “People talk a lot about openness and the sort of interplay of openness and decisiveness; you really need both.”
He went on to say even starting out with an opinion, it’s important to be open to other people’s input. And that, Ross said, has been one of the great pleasures of serving on the board.
“We’ve had very good people on the board historically, and we do now,” he said. “One of them will voice an opinion that at first hadn’t occurred to me, or that had occurred to me and I didn’t put much stock in and explain why it is that maybe it can make sense.”
Ross said he couldn’t remember a time he reversed his initial position, but he remembered numerous times there may have been exceptions, interests he hadn’t thought of as important and nuances he recognized.
Part of what helps the trustees make decisions and see different points of view are the voices of the community — the residents.
“It’s been interesting and enlightening,” Ross said.
Ross worked directly with the cable television committee, placing more emphasis on working on franchise agreements and less on providing programming, which is being provided by others.
In addition to his work on the cable television committee, Ross has worked with the rest of the board on sustainability.
“On all the sustainability initiatives, there are residents in this community who have no elected [position], but have been such great leaders,” he said.
That collaboration and teamwork has been helpful to Ross, and he said the work that’s been done by the community’s volunteers enabled the board to accomplish a great deal.
As a liaison to different boards and councils, Ross said a lot of the good ideas come from those meetings.
“The committees and boards and commissions are a tremendous resource because we have a lot of citizens who have a lot to contribute and have particular interests,” he said.
Ross said he tries to relay their ideas and conversations back to the trustees in an honest and positive way.
Reflecting his term on the board, Ross said his first big task was staffing boards and councils as the chair of the Personnel Committee.
“That was fascinating, and I think very useful because we really did need to find people and decide among people for those positions,” he said. “I was very proud of the way the people I recommended functioned in those roles.”
In his view, the Freightway redevelopment project is another major undertaking for the board, Ross said.
“This is two and a half acres of village-owned property in what should be the middle of our downtown,” he said. “It’s not only been an eyesore, but [it has been] tremendously underutilized pretty much forever.”
The board has yet to make any real decisions about what to do with the Freightway space, but Ross said there’s been a great deal of work already completed.
“It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve done in the past two years as trustee,” Ross said. “If we can handle that properly, we will end up with a much-improved downtown and a real asset to the community on many levels.”
Ross said throughout his tenure on the dais he’s had a great deal of support from his family — his wife, another active volunteer, Susan, and his two children, daughter Julia and son Adam.
Village elections will be held March 19.