Geneseo Town Supervisor William Wadsworth has used his experiences overcoming adversity with hard work and dedication as a guiding principle to help better the Geneseo community.
A Rochester native who spent a lot of time in Geneseo, Wadsworth moved to North Carolina with his father at the young age of three when his parents divorced. It was there as a child that Wadsworth first experienced the feeling of being ostracized in a community. Wadsworth recalled his isolation due to his status as a “Yankee,” with parents of fellow classmates telling them not to associate with him. Despite this painful experience, Wadsworth was able to better himself from it.
“Down there, I learned in my formative years to watch out for the people that aren’t being cared for,” he said. “It was good training; I really learned a lot.” Lessons like these now help him in his role as Town Supervisor.
Wadsworth moved back up to Geneseo at eight years old, working on his father’s farm until college where he studied agronomy in a two-year program at SUNY Canton. He emphasized that he gained many valuable insights through farm work, such as the value of work ethic and determination.
He added that many of his family members encouraged him to explore his interest in art, so he also took the Fine Art Foundations Program at Philadelphia College of Art for 2-D and 3-D color theory. While Wadsworth loved his studies in art, he only took two years of it and noted that he wished he would have done four. He attributed his attention to subtle details to the time he spent in this program.
“When you’re managing something like a town, it could be easy to just think of it as like stacking blocks, but if you look for the subtleties, [you find the] beauty in it—how people behave, how people learn things, how people change their opinions if they’re given the respect of being listened to,” Wadsworth said.
The role of Town Supervisor is no easy job. Wadsworth works on a board with five other individuals—all of whom have roughly the same amount of authority. While Wadsworth explained that he is the one to bring up a proposition, a decision is made with collective discussion from all board members. While Wadsworth enjoys his job, he takes it seriously—he looks at his position as Supervisor as a position of duty. In order for his job to be done well, it has to be done for the sake of the people who pay the taxes. “It’s a humble experience,” Wadsworth said.
Wadsworth added that he doesn’t take his position in the town for granted. “I’m lucky to be Will Wadsworth in Geneseo, I’m a known quantity here—that can help get you in the door,” he said. “But then you have to deliver something worth having. If you run for office, you can’t just run on a name, but [you have to possess] the ability to do the job.”
Through all of his trials and tribulations, Wadsworth has gained an ability to take away valuable life lessons from even the simplest of experiences—something that allows him to work effectively as a leader.
“I’m a good listener: I hear what people are saying, I don’t just hear what I think they’re saying. I really listen carefully to what people are saying and then I ask them if I understand what they are saying,” he said. “I’m straight-forward, I’m honest, I’m a hard worker—and those are things I learned growing up.” .