Sabrina Thompson, The Observer

A dedicated mayor will work hard to improve and enhance his or her city. The Oregon Mayors Association has recognized Elgin’s mayor for his leadership and two local students for their ideas about what they would do if they were mayor.

“I was very surprised,” Mayor Allan Duffy said about receiving the OMA Mayors Leadership Award. “I was caught off guard.”

Many of Duffy’s projects were highlighted as the reason he was chosen for the award, including his “Block by Block” project, in which every year the City of Elgin improves one block of the town, from the pipes to sidewalks and new asphalt in the street. He was also lauded for his work rebuilding trust and unity in the city.

“It’s about being able to move a city forward,” Duffy said about what motivates him. “I love my community and I love to serve.”

Currently Duffy is working with the city to complete its museum project, and he is hoping to continue to work with the Opera House and revitalize downtown Elgin in the remainder of his time as mayor.

According to a press release from OMA, the Mayors Leadership Award was established in 1993 to recognize the valuable contribution that mayors make to communities throughout Oregon. Each year, four mayors statewide are selected for this award. The candidates are nominated by their cities. In judging, the selection committee, made up of three mayors who have previously won the award, considers if each candidate has demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities that have contributed to lasting benefits in his or her city and the community as a whole; shown considerable involvement in community affairs and intergovernmental relations; shown exceptional skill in helping to facilitate productive relationships between the governing body and city employees; and helped other Oregon mayors reach their full potential as community leaders..

“One thing that stood out was that (Duffy) had been nominated before over multiple years,” Megan George, operations director for the League of Oregon Cities, said.

It was this reason, his involvement with the LOC board and the number of nominations that Duffy has received, that led to the decision to award him.

“If I were mayor, I would…”

This year, statewide, students from fourth through 12th grade submitted projects about what they would do if they were mayor. Fourth- and fifth-graders designed posters, sixth- through eighth-graders wrote essays and ninth- through 12th-graders made videos, PowerPoint presentations or other media presentations to explain their ideas. Elgin School District’s Charlee Morehead (seventh grade) won second place and Madielynn Larman (ninth grade) won first place in their respective age categories for their projects. Each was awarded an Apple iPad Air tablet.

According to a press release by OMA, the competition begins with a local contest conducted by mayors in their cities. The first-place winners of the local contests are entered in the state-level competition in the spring, which is judged by members of the OMA Judging Committee. Sixteen cities participated in this year’s contest at the local level, with 24 entries being forwarded to the state-level competition.

Morehead’s essay detailed his plans as mayor would include bringing back movie nights at the Opera House and trimming trees that have overgrown in the area. He recognized the needs for improvement within his community while still showing pride and admiration for his home.

Larman’s video about what she would do as mayor showcased the great things about Elgin in multiple ways, while she talked about how she would help build upon the excellent work that has already been done.

The success of these students is evidence that Duffy’s accomplishments as mayor have not gone unnoticed at home.