Long-standing Council passes torch after some emotional goodbye remarks
By Brandi Makuski
Six members of the Stevens Point Common Council on Monday bid farewell to their long-held seats.
Outgoing members were presented by outgoing interim Mayor Gary Wescott with plaques of appreciation for their service to the city, and all were given a chance to give their last public remarks. Some inserted humor in their farewell speeches, others were brief and courteous, and a few had a tough time keeping their composure and were nearly overcome with emotion.
Not all six lost re-election. Alders Mary Stroik and Roger Trzebiatowski retired and Alderman Jerry Moore filed non-candidacy papers so he could run for mayor. But all had the same two pieces of advice for newcomers: political ideologies have no place on the Council, and the city needs to continue growing.
Hans Walther, District 2 (1995-2010, 2014-2015): “The City of Stevens Point need to continue to grow. New growth and new construction is very, very important. The last thing we want to do is lay people off or cut services….After the election, my thoughts turned to a very prominent Portage County Republican, and he said to me, ‘You’re taking a great risk associating yourself with the Republican Party. You may not be able to get re-elected to anything in the City of Stevens Point again’. My comment to him was that I had more faith in the electorate of Stevens Point, I just don’t believe you. I’m reflecting upon that now, wondering if he did have a little bit of knowledge there. But I have no regrets…I think it’s important to remember this is a nonpartisan position.”
Mike O’Meara, District 3 (2009-2015): “I want to thank the group that came to meetings to express their concerns. I want to thank city staff, they were all wonderful teammates…that is not to say I always agreed with them, but they were always acting in good faith. Let me offer some advice: first, work as a team. If all of your votes are as a partisan for only your district, you will lose one to ten. Learn how to judge what is best for the city. And learn about your new job. The city is a creature of the state.”
Mary Stroik, District 5 (2009-2015): “I want to wish my successor Bryan (Van Stippen) all the luck, and I hope he learns as much as I have.”
Roger Trzebiatowski, District 7 (2005-2015): “A wise mentor once told me about this position to remember the city clerk is the official recipient and disseminator of all information. Utilize that connection to protect yourself, elicit the information you’ve received and protect the integrity of the information. I’ve seen Council members who voted in favor of contracts without even having had the ability to read the details inside, and members who willingly voted to give away their own power blindly. I’ve seen members come and go because of single-issue agendas. But our job is not about single issues; it’s about Stevens Point…it is about preserving the powers and rights of future councils to come…. Research both sides of an idea, not only those that support your theories.”
Randy Stroik, District 9 (2003-2015): “It’s been a great 12 years. I’m very proud of the accomplishments we’ve made as a city in that time. I’ve enjoyed representing Stevens Point, not only in the 9th District but also in Rostov Velicky, Russia, when I had the opportunity to go there and plant a tree that will forever more be a representation of a partnership between our city sister and Stevens Point. That was the fruit of my uncle’s labor many, many years ago, to start with a handshake rather than go to war. And I was really, really honored to be a part of that…. I thought this (saying goodbye) would be easy. I love this city, and I’m entrusting you to take it forward.”
Jerry Moore, District 11 (2000-2015): We’ve accomplished many, many things- I’m very proud of them and I’m very proud of this city. I chose to step down (from Council) so I could run for mayor- not because I didn’t want to do the job any more, but because I was committed to what I was running for. Mike (Wiza), I congratulate you…I hope you succeed because that means we all succeed. To the new Council, leave your ideas and thoughts at the door, if it’s a very specific idea that’s your’s. This isn’t about you, it’s not about pushing through an agenda. It’s about truly serving the community you live in, putting their ideas forward, whatever’s going to improve their lives. That’s what I’ve tried to do for the last 15 years. We haven’t always agreed. The debate is fun sometimes. It’s a good thing, it helps us hammer out things sometimes. We don’t get our way all the time and we shouldn’t expect to. It’s a tough job, but we all work together to make it better. One of the things in my life I’m most proud of is that I never missed a regular Council meeting. This makes 176.”
District 4 Alderman Mike Wiza was also recognized for his time on the Council since 2004.
The new members will be assigned to committees during a special Common Council meeting on Tuesday at 4:30 PM in the City Conference Room of the courthouse, 1515 Strongs Avenue.