Following many rounds of applause from the full house, plenty of thanks and praises and a few tears, the Independence City Council ended Monday’s meeting with a decidedly different look than when it started.
Eileen Weir, who defeated Jim Schultz in the mayoral election two weeks ago, was sworn in to take over for Don Reimal. Karen DeLuccie took the at-large seat being vacated by Schultz, and Scott Roberson took the 3rd District seat, having defeated interim Council Member Roxann Thorley earlier this month.
Incumbent Chris Whiting returned to his at-large seat, as he and DeLuccie were the only two candidates on the ballot, and in the new council’s first order of business he was voted as Mayor Pro-Tem. Weir’s 4th District seat will remain vacant for at least four months until a replacement is elected (please see separate story, pageA8).
“I’m very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us in Independence,” Weir said in closing the meeting. “We’ve been challenged by the community to create a vision and execute that vision. Together we will serve Independence very well.”
State Sen. Paul LaVota, one of several who spoke in congratulations of Reimal’s tenure (12 years on Council, followed by eight as mayor) said of his native city, “We will have a fantastic new mayor who is hard-working and brings a great vision.”
Before Reimal, Schultz and Thorley gave their farewells, State Reps. John Mayfield and Ira Anders and several mayors from the region contributed to Reimal’s sendoff.
Mayfield thanked Reimal for his advice and friendship.
“You had me under your wing...,” Mayfield said. “Just like you had big shoes to fill and you filled them. You leave big shoes to fill.”
“Some people lead loudly,” Council Member Marcie Gragg said. “You’re a person who led quietly and inspired respect from your colleagues.”
Thorley expressed gratitude for her opportunity to serve and wished the new council members best of luck. Schultz, who had been on the council for 12 years, said that he believed he had proven that being a politician and council member didn’t go hand-in-hand. He also thanked his wife.
“She gets none of the credit and all of the grief, and I appreciate that,” he said.
Reimal gave certificates of appreciation to Schultz and Thorley and presented bouquets of flowers to council secretary Sheila Saxton and mayoral secretary Kim Osborne.
“I couldn’t have had two better people to guide me through this,” he told them.
Reimal fought back some tears when he mentioned his wife and family and called his time of public service a “short 20 years.”
“We’ve had a good council,” he said. “You don’t do a good job by yourself, and you don’t do a bad job by yourself. Staff, you’re outstanding. You’ve made my life easier.”
After taking their seats, DeLuccie and Roberson expressed thanks to their families for their support, DeLuccie saying hers had shown “the patience of Job.”
In assessing the new faces, Whiting said he remembered when he first joined the council, trying to realize how his vision fit in with the rest of them.
“It’s incumbent as a new council to bring together our backgrounds to find that vision,” he said.