Tammy Gilroy is a woman who likes to keep herself busy. She is the current mayor of Williamson, recently became apart of Michigan State’s University Advancement program and is very hands on in her community when she has downtime. The City of Williamston is important to her and it is clear to anyone who asks.
She is a fourth-generation resident of Williamston, meaning her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and herself were born and raised in the city. Gilroy raised her daughter in the town as well but encouraged her to leave and break the generational cycle, saying there is more out there. Gilroy, on the other hand, has no intention of leaving her hometown and is in the process of creating her own legacy there.
When asked about her job, Gilroy mentions that she did not plan on getting involved with politics, let alone become mayor. When elected in 2017, Gilroy became the only female member on Williamston’s City Council and still is. She is the sixth female mayor and longest serving female mayor in the city. She credits her decision in becoming mayor to her love of her city and always wanting to be involved in her community.
“You know, it’s, it’s super important to make sure that, you know, our community still stays engaged with each other, even though we’re still trying to figure this whole, you know, COVID, and socially distancing, and, you know, safe proximity and all of that,” Gilroy said.
Gilroy said that aged infrastructure is the most important issue in this city and in many municipalities. The city is trying to put together a plan that will help improvements without burdening the city residents through tax dollars.
Since the beginning of COVID-19, many communities have lost businesses, residents, and a bit of their sanity. In Williamston, the roles were reversed. During the pandemic, those in Williamston stood together stronger than ever, supporting each other, their local businesses, and making sure everyone in the community was looked after.
“You know, we have a very vibrant downtown. And I think the one thing that really pleased me the most and really showed how our community comes together and supports our businesses. We did not lose a single business to COVID. We have a lot of retail, we have service, we have our restaurants, and everybody was so supportive… Everybody really just pulled together and kept it local. And that was really fantastic,” Gilroy said.
Transcription of audio:
Gilroy, Tammy: Hi, Paige. This is Mayor Gilroy. How are you?
McCallum, Paige: I’m good mayor Gilroy, how are you?
Gilroy: I’m doing fine. Yeah. So, if you want to fire away on those questions, I will go ahead and do my best to answer them for you.
McCallum: What is your job specifically as mayor? And how long have you held the position?
Gilroy: All right, so I was elected to City Council by a vote of the constituents in 2015 for what was originally a four-year term. But then we wanted to coincide with general election years, so we added a fifth year for that particular term. I was elected as mayor in December of 2016, and officially became mayor that month. So, my first meeting was in 2017. So, I have been mayor ever since
McCallum: How do you like the job?
Gilroy: I love it. But I also you know, I say this very, whimsically, that it’s a council of seven, I am the only female. And I just don’t think any of the men want the job. But they are all good sports. I love my council. I love working with our city staff. Because it’s all about our community.
McCallum: What does a typical day in your life look like?
Gilroy: Sure. So, for me personally, I just ended a 20-year career at Lansing Community College and just started a new career at Michigan State University. Yeah, I just joined the University Advancement group, which is located in the offices at Spartan Stadium. And so, I’m a part of that group. And looking forward to just learning everything there is to learn about, you know, what MSU does to keep moving the university forward. So that’s my daytime, job for but you know, wearing the hat of Mayor, it does require some time during the week, depending on what meetings might be on the calendar. Or like for today, for instance, I had a call from our interim city manager, because we needed to declare a snow emergency, which means that there’s no parking in any city streets during the snow events, so that way our DPW staff can get out and clear the roads and the streets and keep up with the snowball that’s coming down. So you know, you know, at any given time, you know, a city staff member may reach out to me for either wants to, you know, shoot an idea across or needs to make me aware of a situation. And so that, you know, that was just one of those things today that, you know, as I’m working, you know, remotely from issue, I’m still, you know, in touch with the city with our chief of police, making sure that everything is running smoothly, and making sure that they know that they have my support and supportive counsel in doing what they’re doing out there. And that’s kind of what my day looks like, you know, MSU during the day and to your Williamston in the evening.
McCallum: What is the biggest challenge that your town is facing at the moment? And how do you plan on approaching it?
Gilroy: Sure. So, I think our biggest challenge when it comes for the city of Williamston, it’s our aged infrastructure. And I think all municipalities always face that. You know, like I said, we just celebrated our 100 and 50th anniversary. So, as you can imagine, you know, we have several infrastructure locations throughout the city that are old. We have some water mains that are well over 100 years old. And so, you know, we’re really trying to put together a good plan on how we can do infrastructure improvements, without burdening our city residents through tax dollars. We don’t really want to have to put through a millage. I’m hoping that the federal infrastructure bill that you know, the government has been working on will benefit us. Representative Slotkin actually chose Williamston as one of her top 10 municipalities to submit for funding. So, I’m excited about that. I don’t I don’t like seeing our government go into tremendous debt. But I think that infrastructure is so important across the board for so many people.
Spartan Newsroom Reporter Paige McCallum spoke with Tammy Gilroy about being mayor and how COVID-19 is impacting her job.