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Editor's Voice: She is so respected, they named a bridge after her

Posted 3/19/13

How many people have a bridge named after them? Judy Oxenford does, an honor she earned for her dogged determination to restore a dilapidated bridge over the railroad tracks that cut through her town.

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Editor's Voice: She is so respected, they named a bridge after her


Now upper and lower Royalton are connected by a spanking new Judy Deighton Oxenford Bridge, as it is now called.

It is perhaps Oxenford’s biggest accomplishment in her 19 years as mayor of Royalton, but not her only one. In a tiny borough of about 900 residents that operated on a shoestring budget, Oxenford raised money for projects around town like the park and senior citizens’ center with such initiatives as chicken corn soup sales.

Her tireless work for her town, her home since birth, did not go unnoticed. When she retired from politics in 2009, the town threw a goodbye reception. It is hard to imagine, in an age when we look upon politics with jaded and critical eyes, when party affiliation seems to create a deep gulf of resentment and scathing rhetoric among the electorate, that a politician would get that much love.

Oxenford left politics with a list of things she wanted to accomplish but never had the time to do while she was mayor – from big plans, such as vacationing in Utah, to little ones, like cleaning her garage. She was in her late 60s, and had served for a long time. It seemed that we had seen the last of Mayor Judy.

So it was a surprise to discover that Oxenford, now 70, has launched another campaign for mayor this spring, handing in petitions to Dauphin County election officials to get on the Republican ballot in the May primary.

“I’m rejuvenated and revitalized and I’m going to do my thing again,’’ she told the Press And Journal last week.

That’s good news for Royalton.

Oxenford is unopposed in her bid for mayor, and if the nagging rheumatoid arthritis from which she suffers doesn’t rob her of energy, she will again be an asset in Royalton.

In her absence, Royalton has undertaken its own emergency management agency in the wake of the 2011 flooding. Some there have continued to work hard for the small town.

With Oxenford, Royalton can only get better. She’s the kind of politician that makes public service a proud profession.