Wagner praises city employees as he leaves office
Ken Wagner took leave of the office of Baldwin City mayor Monday with words of thanks to city employees and the offer to do all he could to help his successor.
Monday’s Baldwin City Council meeting marked the end of Wagner’s four-term as mayor, as well as the terms of council members Tom Farmer and Bonnie Plumberg. In one of his last acts as mayor, Wagner praised Baldwin City police officers Kyle Bulmer and Tony Hedley for entering a burning house at 901 High Street last month to rescue a sleeping resident.
“There is no doubt in my mind, they saved the life of that man,” Wagner said. “Their actions went far above and beyond the call of duty.”
He was recommending City Administrator Chris Lowe and Police Chief Greg Neis continue efforts to gain state recognition for the two officers’ heroism, Wagner said. They were local examples of public servants who, like those who responded to 9/11 and last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, ran toward possible harm to help others, he said.
They were but two members of a dedicated group of city employees, Wagner said.
“A lot of people were scared when I got elected because they thought I was going to fire everybody,” he said. “But I’m wise enough to know the value of good employees.”
Before turning over the mayoral gavel to Marilyn Pearse, Wagner made a final pitch that the new council continued the retreats the last two councils conducted early in their terms. The retreats helped the councils establish unified visions and develop a spirit of cooperation, he said.
“I think it is a tremendous asset for all five council members to know where their fellow members are coming from,” Wagner said.
One indication the council did a good job the last four years was that it avoided any big controversies, Wagner said.
In his departing remarks, Farmer echoed Wagner’s praise for city employees, giving special thanks to the city’s volunteer firefighters.
“In Texas, 10 volunteer firefighters lost their lives in the plant explosion,” he said of the West, Texas, fertilizer plant disaster. “I think we have the same commitment in this city.”
The meeting concluded soon after Pearse and the two new council members took their seats. The new council did approve Pearse’s reappointment of Matt Hoy as city attorney, Sean Pickett as municipal judge and Connie Sams as court pro tem.
The council also voted 4-0 to elect Council Jason Mock as council president. In that position, he will chair meetings in Pearse’s absence. Mock abstained in the vote.
Councilman Shane Starkey said he considered seeking the position but chose not to so that the new council would be undivided in its first decision.
Council committee assignments were also approved. Gerstner was appointed chair of the budget and finance committee with Mock as vice-chair; Starkey was appointed chair of the community development committee with Darnell as vice-chair; Coy Weege was named chair of the public health and safety committee with Gerstner as vice-chair; and Mock was appointed chair of the utilities committee with Weege as vice-chair.