CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – After 18 years of public service, the mayor of Cortland is calling it quits.
Mayor James Woofter is not seeking reelection after his first term as mayor comes to an end next year.
Woofter has served the last four years as mayor of the city. Before that, he served on the city’s Planning, Zoning and Building Commission and on Cortland City Council. He was council president from 2011 to 2015 and has also served in various capacities at other local agencies and organizations.
Woofter recently turned 70 years old and said he plans to step away from politics and focus on his newspaper, “The Cortland News.” He also plans to travel. He said his goal four years ago was never to be in the mayor’s office for long.
“I knew in the fourth year I’d be turning 70. The city charter allows for no term limits for mayor, but I set my own limits. I didn’t want to run past 70. I want to spend the next 10 years enjoying the time I have left and concentrating on my newspaper,” Woofter said.
During the last four years, the city has seen a lot of improvements. Woofter said his goal was securing new technology and moving the city forward.
“I accomplished a lot of things I wanted to do. I feel like I brought Cortland out of the Dark Ages by upgrading our software and computer system and bringing in new IT and security – protecting the city from cyber attacks. Now, we have firewalls and IT people watching us 24/7,” he said. “We were a sitting duck before.”
Other upgrades in the city include:
- Software upgrades in the finance department
- Online utility bill pay
- Veterans Memorial – constructed with state and private money
- Park upgrades – Renovation of the pickleball and tennis courts, splash pad construction and new playground equipment installed.
- New police cruisers, two new ambulances and communication system for police and fire
- Computer and communication upgrades in city administration
- New water lines, storm sewer and road paving (ongoing)
Woofter said his biggest challenge as mayor has been finding ways to save the city money in spite of state budget cuts. That meant coming up with original ideas and getting the right people on board.
“We lost about $200,000 a year in cuts. That was about four or five years ago. Doing the things I did in conjunction with my finance director, as far as looking at insurance options, saved us thousands of dollars a year.” Woofter said.
Councilwoman Deidre Petrosky is running unopposed for Woofter’s seat. After the election, city council will appoint someone to fill the two years left on her term.
Woofter’s advice to the person who takes his place? “Be a people person and listen, first.”