West Chester Borough's new Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste says the role is a labor of love, one she's gladly taking on, so she can help work on the town's "good problems," such as revisiting parking concerns and establishing equity among the borough's nine-plus parks.
"As mayor, my goal is to build upon the solid foundation begun by Mayor Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste, who in 1994, began turning this town around -- from a shuttered main street into a thriving community," she adds.
Throughout the recent mayoral campaign, Lillian stressed the importance of communication and listening. “I’m trying to be the change I wanted to see happen," says the director of DeBaptiste Funeral Homes.
Lillian is working with several groups to plan new, communitywide efforts, such as West Chester Green Team members and chair Margaret Hudgings, to launch an inaugural spring day of "porch concerts." Details are yet to be finalized, however, the concept is about planning simultaneous performances from various types of musicians in different borough quadrants. "We hope to include all types of music, like jazz, blues, folk, opera and instrumental. And we'd like to include educational and cultural opportunities to also work with children, such as perhaps having a logo contest," she says.
The new mayor says the borough will begin introducing electronic vehicles into the fleet, as replacement needs arise.
"We want to work toward environmental justice and borough equity, especially in parts of town that may've been overlooked," says Lillian.
Lillian's A-B-C-D Specific Action Plans
Arts: "The arts are a way we can all share what's most important -- our diverse cultures, family histories, struggles, triumphs, explorations and discoveries. What better way to do this than through cultural celebrations, music, poetry, spoken word, great food and fellowship," poses Lillian.
Balance: "We face a significant deficit in our borough's budget, which impacts the quality of life for residents. Balancing the budget effectively is paramount to the health of our town. I hope to assist with solutions by sharing my business skills," says the new mayor.
Clean & Green: "Previous mayors adopted environmental initiatives to keep this town both clean and green; we must continue to invest in increasingly sustainable ways of living. The earth is in crisis, and it's our duty to repair and revitalize our corner of the world in West Chester," Lillian says.
Diversity: "2020 was a year that reminded us the work of social and racial justice is far from done, that equality and equity are not the same thing, and that we all deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I understand that diversity is more than just a photo or a word. I want to make West Chester a more equitable, inclusive place," she says.