When Troubetaris took office, the city was facing an $8.5 million deficit. Over the next two decades, she said, the city experienced a “renaissance” with improvements to its parks, schools and downtown and the transformation of the old United Shoe factory into the Cummings Center.
Cummings Center is now a thriving office park and the city’s largest taxpayer, but the development, which is in Troubetaris’ ward, was controversial at the time due to concerns over traffic and its impact on existing businesses.
Troubetaris ultimately voted in favor of the project but called it her “toughest vote.”
“I had a ward divided,” she said. “The woman around the corner started a petition against it. I went home one night and said, ‘This isn’t a ward issue, it’s a city issue.’ It’s the best vote I ever took.”
Troubetaris developed a reputation on the council as a straight talker who would state her opinions bluntly.
“She’s all for the average person, the middle class, whatever you want to label that certain group of people,” Harrington said. “She’s their voice. Sometimes she doesn’t make friends on the board, but we’d all say to her, ‘You don’t need them to be your friends. We’re your friends.’”
Troubetaris has been the only woman on the nine-member council for the last two years, a situation she said has not always been easy.
“I’ve endured, but the men have their little group conversations,” she said. “I just say what I want to say. I’m independent in that sense.”
City Council President Paul Guanci credited Troubetaris with helping guide him when he first joined the council 12 years ago.
“Through the years, she’s been a valuable ally and a tremendous friend,” he said. “Whoever runs has big shoes to fill. Her heart is definitely in it. She’s always been in it for the right reasons.”