MIDLAND, Texas — Patrick Payton is a few weeks into being Midland’s mayor.

Before his go at politics, he was the head pastor at Stonegate Fellowship for nearly 20 years.

“We got a few phone calls, few emails, people asking you know…would you consider running for mayor?" said Payton. "I sat down had a conversation with my wife, talked to the Lord a little bit and decided that this was something that we're supposed to do."

Payton has three grown children and three grandchildren. His wife, Cindy, has been by his side for the past 30 years. She knew retirement was not in his immediate future.

“It was a great opportunity for him to use his skill set and the gifts that God had given him by serving in a different capacity," said Cindy Payton.

Different from the city councilmen, Payton’s highest priority as mayor has nothing to do with roads or infrastructure.

It actually starts with shifting how Midlanders think of themselves.

“We have inherited a way of thinking recently that says we aren’t as good above ground, as we are below ground," Payton said. "So it’s time for us to rethink who we are and for us to decide we really are as important as the rest the world sees us." 

The mayor, who does not beat around the bush on much, thinks everyone needs to step up.

“The other day someone called and asked me, 'Mr. Mayor what are you gonna do about the trash?'" Payton said. "I said 'I’m gonna ask you to pick it up and that’s where you start the answer to all the things that we face.'”

But working together to accomplish that goal is easier said than done for the new mayor. 

"The biggest challenge I didn't see coming is how people can still define themselves and what we do by what have been 10 years ago, 15 years ago," Payton said. "I’m surprised that grudges are held for so long that often times keep us from moving forward in discussions.”

That is when all those years on the pulpit come in handy. 

“My mentor use to tell me, seek first to understand before you try to be understood," Payton said. "If you take some time to understand then you might leave the room and find out that you have an alliance that you thought you'd never have.”

Mayor Payton is trying to understand Tall City and the problems we face one city council meeting, one encounter at a time.

If you want to take part in those discussions, he next city council meeting is this upcoming Tuesday, Feb. 25.

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