Commissioner reflects on dozen years in office
Don Navinsky is going home to his farm.
Navinsky, who has been 1st District Leavenworth County commissioner since 1994, celebrated his retirement from the commission at a reception Friday. Navinsky said that even though he's ready to return to his duties at home, the decision not to run for re-election last year was bittersweet.
"Yes it was, yes it was," he said. "You have to make the decision early not to run, and I made that decision. I've got other obligations; my mom is still alive, she's up here.
"I got to where I felt like I couldn't face that set like I'd like to do and still take care of my family obligations."
Navinsky was in good cheer greeting the long line of friends and colleagues who attended his retirement party at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth. He said that among the accomplishments he was most proud of were the construction of the Justice Center, the jail project and the tightening of finances.
"When I came in, the bond issue had failed -- the same time I was elected -- to build the jail, and we started working with the cities and getting all that together," Navinsky said. "We got the sales tax passed, built that and got it built on time and on budget."
"I think what I'm really happy about is I got in and we started line-item budgeting and line-item accounting. It's made the departments more accountable and you can actually look back and see where the money was spent on each item."
Navinsky is leaving office with a few unfinished goals, but he said he felt that even those things that he wasn't able to see accomplished would be left in capable hands.
"The issue isn't done on the (U.S. Highway) 24-40 and that's just an issue that's going to take a lot of work. Other people, new people behind me, I'm quite sure, can get the details worked out."
But beyond the bottom-line, some, like Francis X. Thorne, a Lansing Realtor, felt Navinsky brought a certain down-home character to the commission. It's a character he may be taking with him.
"Don Navinsky is a good old farm boy who did business with a handshake. Guys like that aren't around any more," Thorne said. "His handshake was his word."
Navinsky's plans may confirm Thorne's image. Along with spending time with family and looking after his farm, Navinsky is eager to return to a more leisurely lifestyle.
"Getting back with the wife and family, spending time doing things I've neglected for years, getting caught up on that," he said. "Going back and having time to stop and talk to my neighbors and spending an hour to talk to them instead of having to stop and rush and get going."
Though it was hard for Navinsky to choose to leave the commission, he'll get to take with him his most prized compensation for time served: all of the relationships he's developed over the years. It's a token of the enjoyment he's had serving the county.
"I really enjoyed it. I think it was great that people would choose to put me back in for 12 years and I've enjoyed all the people I've worked with," Navinsky said. "I'm going to miss all the friends that I've had."