Crossroads Ten Most Powerful - #8 Will Armstrong
April 28, 2009 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2009 at 11:28 p.m.
He's a family man, a businessman and a politician. But most of all, Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong likes to think of himself as a team player, not a power figure.
"Power can be money," the 68-year-old said. "Power can be having your phone calls returned when you call Washington. I don't qualify on those accounts."
"Will never uses 'I' whenever he's talking about something. It's 'we're' doing this. I think he truly believes we have to work together to get things done."
"Will is very committed to serving the city of Victoria. He cares about Victoria and its future."
"The mayor is a person who visualizes and sees what he knows and wants the community to be. He works to attain those goals and visions."
"I feel like he's dominating the council. But he's been very cordial to us."
"Pleasant unless challenged. I think his self-esteem considerably outpaces his performance."
What's on his desk?
"Forbes," a can of 3-in-1 oil, a manual pencil sharpener and a subpoena.
Astronomy, reading and creating artwork out of wood.
What does power mean?
"For me it's being able to find people with like mind on the city council where we can work together and cooperate as a team."
How do you wield power?
"Working with other council members and the city administration for a progressive city."
1973: Wins seat on city council.
1979: Announces he's not running for re-election. Behind the scenes he plans to return some day as mayor.
2004: Daughter Susan Cain moves into family business, giving Armstrong more time for politics.
2004: Successfully ran for mayor against incumbent Gary Middleton.
Who was your most influential teacher or mentor?
Banker P.K. Stubblefield, history teacher Wilma Felger, fishing and outdoor enthusiast David Vest and former Mayor Charles Carsner.
What is your favorite cause and why?
"My favorite cause is the city of Victoria. I'm the mayor. That should be my favorite cause."
What one thing would you change in the Crossroads? Why?
"I'd go back a hundred years, raise taxes and repair the streets so they wouldn't be in such bad shape."
The neatly dressed man with white hair, walked confidently, but alone into Victoria's City Council Chamber.
He was obviously no stranger. He made his way to the first person in the crowd. He smiled, shook the man's hand and exchanged greetings.
The scene was repeated over and over as he worked through the crowd that had gathered for the sales tax board meeting. Finally, Mayor Will Armstrong took his seat with the rest of the board just in time for the 4 p.m. meeting to start.
Armstrong, 68, was just 6 when he moved from Austin to Victoria with his family on July 4, 1947.
His dad was from Seadrift and he wanted to be closer to home. The senior Armstrong bought a moving businesses that year.
Armstrong eventually took over the business, while serving the community in various capacities. That includes the planning commission, the city council and behind the scenes on different committees.
"The community is powerful and I'm part of it," said Armstrong. "It's the teamwork where the power comes from, not from an individual in this day and time in Victoria."
When the sales tax board meeting ended, Armstrong again worked the crowd, biding his time before the 5 p.m. city council meeting.
This meeting would be different in that he had to leave early. He turned the gavel over to Mayor Pro Tem Lewis Neitsch. Armstrong was off to yet another meeting at 6:30 p.m. where the merits of proposed charter changes were being debated.
At an age when he's watching his friends retire, Armstrong is turning more of the moving business over to his daughter, Susan Cain. He doesn't want to retire, he says. He wants to devote more time to his other job: mayor of Victoria.
"I spend probably 85 to 95 percent of my time on city business," said Armstrong, co-owner of a moving and storage company. "But I'm a public servant and that's what I'm supposed to do."