Ward serves on Tonganoxie City Council in final meeting as mayor

Jason Ward shows up a fishing shirt he was given at the end of Monday's Tonganoxie City Council meeting. Colleagues presented him with the shirt in recognition of his many years of serving on the Tonganoxie City Council. Enlarge photo

December 18, 2019

The Tonganoxie City Council made its way through agenda items Monday as it usually does, but the meeting was bookmarked with recognition of someone who’s been on the governing body the past 14 years.

Jason Ward, who started as a council member before being appointed mayor and then serving two full terms, oversaw his final meeting Monday.

Ward opted not to seek another term. And with that, Mayor-elect David Frese will be sworn in Jan. 6.

Both current and former council members thanked Ward for his service Monday.

During open agenda, former Council Members Andy Gilner, Kara Reed and Jamie Lawson all spoke about Ward.

“I just wanted to come this evening knowing it was Jason’s last meeting,” Gilner said. “I wanted to thank you for your service.”

Gilner said that he appreciated working with Ward. Reed said that Ward served with honesty and integrity at all times, even when those times were challenging.

“You’re a good man and a class act,” she said.

Lawson was the last to speak during open agenda.

“Ditto,” Lawson joked, but then went on to say that he appreciated all that Ward had done for the community.

At the end of the meeting, Council President Rocky Himpel read a proclamation recognizing Ward’s service to the community, whether it was with civic organizations or being part of the city’s progress through the years as mayor. Some of that progress included a new wastewater treatment facility, Tonganoxie Water Park, a walking trail, new library and city hall and police station created in repurposed buildings.

Council Member Loralee Stevens said she got to know Ward more since joining the council about two years ago. She said she cherished conversations they had that went beyond serving on the governing body.

Curtis Oroke, another City Council member, joked that it had been a long four years on the council, noting the two had gone through some challenging times.

Oroke said the two might not have seen eye-to-eye all of the time, but they both wanted what was best for the community and probably agreed 95 percent of the time on the direction of the community.

“Your words are more polished than mine,” Oroke said with a smile, noting that it probably helped that Ward was a lawyer.

City Manager George Brajkovic told Ward he respected his leadership and friendship.

Brajkovic then presented Ward with a gift, which was a fishing shirt with the city’s logo and “Mayor Jason Ward” on it.

“It’s been a heck of a ride,” Ward said.

The outgoing mayor said he never had considered himself being a politician when he first got involved in local government. He also spoke about local government being the purest form of government — all without any party affiliation.

“Partisan politics has set this country back,” Ward said.

He went on to say that being a part of the council or the community is “Never about one person.”

“I tell everybody that all the time,” Ward said. “All of us have that opportunity … to make that impact.”

He later said he never regretted serving on the council and said it was an “absolute pleasure” before commending the city’s employees for all of their work through the years.

“This is great,” Ward said. “Thank you so much, gang.”

The new council will be sworn in Jan. 6 and a new member also likely will be appointed at that meeting with Dave Bennett stepping down a few weeks ago.

Frese, along with incumbent Lisa Patterson and new Council Member Jake Dale will begin four-year terms and will join Stevens and Himpel on the council. Oroke, who lost this past November in a re-election bid, has applied for consideration to be appointed to fill the rest of Bennett’s unexpired term, along with five other residents.

More about the upcoming appointment can be found in a brief on page 2A.

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