Barbara Bass leaves Tyler a better place

Published on Saturday, 31 May 2014 22:56 - Written by

Thank you, Barbara Bass. Not merely for your six years of service as mayor, but for all you’ve done for the Tyler community.

Mrs. Bass has handed off her gavel, but her legacy will last — a legacy of competence, compassion and clarity of vision. She took office in May 2008, just months before our nation was plunged into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Her response to the Great Recession was twofold. First, she approached the city’s swiftly changing financial situation with a cool head and a steady hand for taking necessary actions.

City Manager Mark McDaniel points out that while Barbara Bass was a brand-new mayor, she was no stranger to public finance. In her job as a certified public accountant, she had served as an outside auditor for the city.

“Those were very difficult economic times,” McDaniel says. “But there was no learning curve for Mayor Bass. She was able to quickly digest a lot of financial information, and she was able to help us get to the best solution. She was willing to make decisions about how best to save money and yet still provide necessary services. And she was willing to take the heat for decisions that were made.”

When the city found it couldn’t offer city workers raises, Mayor Bass made sure she was on hand to explain why.

That’s where competence and compassion were combined at just the right time.

“I have such great respect and admiration for Barbara Bass,” says Rev. Ralph Caraway, who served on the Tyler City Council during Bass’ tenure. “She was a mayor who was concerned about the whole city, about the great potential for city growth, and even concerned about where we might have seen some disparity. She made herself available to every person in the city, regardless. She reflects what kind of city we have and what kind of people we are.”

But there’s more to Barbara Bass’ legacy. She also had a clarity of vision that will benefit the city for years to come.

“When Mayor Bass took office, I’m not sure the city and the county and the Economic Development Council were all on the same page,” says Bob Garrett, president and CEO of Fair Oil Co. “I’m not sure they were all coordinating their goals. But she, having been a chair of the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council, was the perfect person to be able to see that, and to take the steps necessary to more closely align the goals.”

There’s a reason she was so effective in doing so, he explains.

“She’s a uniter because she’s such a common-sense person,” Garrett says.

He adds that Barbara Bass played another role during the financial crisis. She became an inspirational leader.

“During the rough economic times, she had enthusiasm and a move-forward attitude,” Garrett says. “She made sure she was present at seemingly every event in Tyler. She spent an inordinate amount of time attending functions and events. And in doing so, she was letting people know the city’s here, the city’s involved, the city cares. And I believe we, as a community, have emerged even stronger than we were before.”

Bass was the catalyst in initiating the Shine Your Light community campaign. Her involvement from the beginning included financial support, advocacy, and inviting the community to pour itself into the frontline agencies selected. During her tenure, the campaign raised more than $1 million.

Her involvement in and support of the Fit City initiative has helped result in countless stories of individuals experiencing life change through exercise and healthy living choices.

Tyler and the greater Tyler area have flourished under the leadership of Barbara Bass. We are better off as a result of her energy and enthusiasm. Thank you, Barbara, for your efforts to preserve and enhance the Last Great Place.