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Parting shots from city commissioners
It was kind of like Oscar night at the City Commission on Tuesday — lots of speechmaking, a few standing ovations, and even a couple of tears.
The occasion, of course, was the changing of the guard at City Hall. Mayor Mike Dever ended his one-year term as mayor, and Commissioners Sue Hack and Boog Highberger left the commission after not seeking re-election in the April 7 election.
Commissioners, as they often do on these final nights, heaped praise on everyone involved. Here’s a sampling of what was said.
• On Dever, who will remain on the commission but will no longer be mayor, commissioners gave him the lion’s share of the credit for convincing voters to approve three new sales taxes in November to fund public transit and infrastructure projects.
“We’re going to have a transportation system second to none because of this guy,” Commissioner Mike Amyx said of Dever. “Talk about taking the bull by the horns, you did a great job.”
• On Hack, commissioners praised her for being a welcoming voice on the commission that cared deeply for children in the community.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever met a person who is nicer,” said Rob Chestnut, who was elected by fellow commissioners to serve a one-year term as mayor. “The brightness you bring to this group is uplifting. You helped us remember that sometimes you have to pull yourself out of the tactics and everything that goes on with this job and just say that it is a sunny day and everything is going to be all right.”
• Hack had the most elaborate good-bye address. She gave presents to all of the commissioners. Among some of the gifts, a gift certificate to Wendy’s for Amyx, who often gets a bowl of chili at the restaurant following the Tuesday evening meetings; a large tub of candy for Chestnut, who often relied on Hack to keep a city drawer at the commission dais stocked with candy; and a toy trolley car for Highberger, who had longed for the days of when Lawrence had a trolley system in town.
• Highberger was honored as a commissioner who brought a social consciousness and clarity to the commission, in addition to a divergent point-of-view.
“I really appreciate your intellect,” Chestnut said. “You make me think a lot, which sometimes just drives me crazy.”
Highberger, who when the commission disagreed often found himself on the losing end of a 4-1 vote, said he always was pleased the commission remained friendly even when there were differences of opinion.
“You’re the nicest group of people I’ve disagreed with a lot,” Highberger said.