In his own words: our 2017 interview with Tom Walker

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Former Watertown Mayor Tom Walker, who passed away Tuesday, had a successful career in local politics, although that’s something he never really wanted. He discussed that with 7 News anchor John Moore back in 2017.

You could say Walker was drafted to run for mayor in the early 1980s. The current mayor then, Karl Burns, was expecting a state government appointment and asked Walker to run in his stead. It didn’t turn out too bad.

John: “Did you enjoy your years as mayor, and the city manager stint as well?

Walker: “Much more than I thought I would. Because when I left school, engineering school, I said one thing I didn’t want to be was be in political life. And all of a sudden, I am.”

It was a stroke of luck for the city. When Fort Drum’s massive expansion launched in the mid-80s, it helped to have a mayor with an engineering background.

“And I found that I came in probably at the right time because we were facing some large engineering changes like improving your water system, your sewage system, working with Fort Drum, and really rebuilding the city,” said Walker.

You think city politics are heated now? Walker described his era in city government as sort of hostile.

“If you remember, there were a lot of bad feelings at the time. And I remember when we were in office if you caught three people talking together, the council, the mayor, or three council members talking together somewhere down the street, you’d be on the back page (of the newspaper),” he said.

An atmosphere like that was probably why Walker was popular as mayor, and a bit later, as interim city manager.

John: “I think when people voted for you, they saw someone who didn’t need the job, wasn’t looking to advance in politics, but simply wanted to give and serve the city. And that’s pretty much what it was, wasn’t it?

Walker: “I think you’re right. Not really wanting the job anyway, and being thrust into a highly active job.”

A highly active job in a highly active life for a man who will be deeply missed.