Texas mayor has Amsterdam roots

An Amsterdam native is the new mayor of Irving, Texas, a city of approximately 200,000 people and fo

An Amsterdam native is the new mayor of Irving, Texas, a city of approximately 200,000 people and former home of the Dallas Cowboys football team.

Mayor Beth Van Duyne, who lived in Amsterdam until the age of 7, is also Irving’s first female chief executive.

“We loved living in Amsterdam; it was a great community,’’ Van Duyne said.

After Amsterdam, the family moved to Cooperstown and then, in 1986, to Texas, her mother, Barbara, said. The weather was a significant factor in deciding where to move.

Van Duyne, 40 at the time of her swearing-in ceremony in June, attended Emma Willard School in Troy, eventually graduating from high school in Texas, her mother said.

Van Duyne returned to the snow and ice to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, where she paid for her own room and board, her website said. She had taken summer courses at Cornell while in high school.

“I fell in love with the campus, the resources and the professors,” Van Duyne said in a telephone interview.

Van Duyne created her own independent major that focused on urban and regional planning, as well as government.

She went back to Texas after graduating with honors at Cornell and got married. Barbara Van Duyne says her daughter is a great mother to her two young children, Kate and Pearce.

“She is a fantastic mom. She is so creative with those kids, I don’t know where she gets that from,” she said.

Also after graduation, Van Duyne became much more involved in politics, although she already had been involved in community service in Irving, working to create a park. She and a few neighbors were having an issue in the neighborhood and weren’t getting any satisfaction from their local representative, according to her mother.

At some point, she was challenged to run for office if she thought she could do a better job Van Duyne took the challenge to heart, and when she couldn’t find a candidate to run against her councilman, she decided to run herself.

She served as a councilwoman from 2004-10. Meanwhile, her opponent in this year’s mayoral race, Herbert Gears, was elected mayor of Irving the same year she joined the council, serving two terms.

In June, Van Duyne, running as a Conservative, defeated Gears, a Democrat, in a runoff election that was viewed as a major upset. Her term will run through 2014.

“It’s one thing to get elected, and it’s another thing to serve,” Van Duyne said. “Now the hard work begins.”

Part of her platform was her ability to work with businesses and her eye for numbers, her website said, experience she gained with BCI Marketing Group, a business consulting firm started almost 10 years ago.

“It was difficult, it was rewarding, but it was hard work,” she said of her work with the company. “You get out of it as much as you put into it.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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