As the new Laramie City Council members take their seats today, the departing members have a chance to reflect on their time on the Council and the impact different policies have made on the city.
The Council celebrated the terms of its four departing members during its Dec. 18 meeting, with cake and a proclamation. Councilman Klaus Hanson — who has served on Council since 2003 and was mayor in 2007-2008 — was met with a standing ovation.
“Getting to know Klaus, one of his slogans was, ‘Dare to care,’” said Parks and Recreation Director Todd Feezer during the meeting while giving Council shirts he made with the slogan. “What a fantastic slogan for anybody who’s picked up the public gauntlet.”
Three members of the Laramie Interfaith Council praised Hansen’s work with them while on the Council during the time for public comment, saying he gave a “voice to the voiceless” and was an “ambassador for goodwill.”
After serving for eight years — including serving as mayor from 2013-2016 — Councilman Dave Paulekas said he was most proud of passing the anti-discrimination ordinance and was “overwhelmed” by the community support.
“It was such an inspiration to be part of that and part of this community,” Paulekas said. “In many ways, we set the standard for the rest of the state.”
The city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and strides to bring more public art to town are some of many initiatives Mayor Andi Summerville said she was proud of during her five-year term on the Council.
“One of them that I’m most proud of is our push towards putting money back into our hard infrastructure,” Summerville said. “I’m very proud of the package that we put together for the sixth-penny vote that was recently passed, mainly because it really helped address our streets issue.”
Councilwoman Phoebe Stoner, leaving the Council after two years to move to Oregon, said she was proud of decisions that “work to improve everyday life for our current and future residents.”
“Most recently, I’m proud of land purchases that we will pursue to protect the Casper Aquifer,” Stoner said.
Looking forward, Summerville said she knows she wants to stay involved with the city but isn’t quite sure to what capacity.
“I think that I’m going to spend some time with my kids — who have probably not seen nearly enough of me the last few years — and we’ll go from there,” Summerville said. “I definitely want to stay involved; I just don’t know what that will look like in the future yet.”
In contrast, Paulekas said he’s ready to move on to the next chapter.
“Eight years is enough,” Paulekas said. “I’m in my late 60s, it’s time for me to retire and it’s time for me to let other people do it.”
Stoner said Laramie has a “boomerang effect” and she might cross paths with the city again after her move, but she still plans to stay civically involved. She added she had a long list of things she’s learned during her short time on the Council, but one that stuck out was the intricacies of the inner-workings of a local government.
“From walking down the sidewalk, to turning on your sink to brush your teeth, to driving through an intersection on a city road — all of these things relate to the city of Laramie and the essential services it provides to its people,” Stoner said. “It has been fascinating to learn about the many aspects it takes to make it all possible.”
Summerville said she learned just how much wrong information can circulate through town about different city services, projects and timelines, and she said she underestimated how complex the issues are.
“I came into the job five years ago thinking I had a pretty good grasp on how the city functioned and what it was like, and I very quickly realized that I knew nothing,” Summerville said. “It’s a huge difference coming out on the other side.”
Paulekas also said he grew to really appreciate city staff and the government’s inner workings.
“All of the intricacies of government and how it operates, the importance of coalitions and the importance of working with people, I’ve learned that.” Paulekas said. “I’ve learned that politics is unpredictable.”