The Olympia City Council hosted a short farewell reception Tuesday for Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and Councilman Steve Langer.
Buxbaum and Langer both decided to forgo re-election this year, and Tuesday marked their last council meeting.
Buxbaum was first elected to the council in 2009. He was named mayor pro tem in 2010, and was elected mayor in 2011. He will be replaced by current Councilwoman Cheryl Selby, who won the mayoral election in November.
Langer was appointed to the council in 2010 and was elected to a four-year term in 2011. He will be replaced by Jessica Bateman, who won the race for position 2 in November.
Both men received praise and well wishes from council colleagues as well as city staff. Several comments pointed out Buxbaum’s leadership and ability to see the big picture when it comes to development. Others complimented Langer for his thoughtful presence and behind-the-scenes work as chairman of the Land Use and Environmental Committee.
During their tenure, the council approved two important projects: the Shoreline Master Program, which regulates development on the city’s shoreline, and the revised Comprehensive Plan, which serves as a policy blueprint for the city’s goals.
Other notable achievements include rezoning the downtown isthmus and addressing downtown blight through the formation of a Community Renewal Area. One of Buxbaum’s top accomplishments was helping to create the Pear Blossom Place family shelter at the former Smith Building. Langer was lauded for his work in helping the city annex several urban islands.
City Manager Steve Hall said Buxbaum and Langer are “two of the smartest people I’ve ever worked with,” adding that they are “the critical essence of citizen-led government.”
Buxbaum told the council he is grateful for the experience they had together.
“Figuring out a path forward is something that we always managed to do,” he said. “I’m so deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve my city.”
Langer also credited the support of council colleagues and city staff for making his tenure a success.
“It’s always been about what’s best for the city,” said Langer, who handed out homemade awards for several city administrators.
The city will plant two red oak trees in honor of Buxbaum and Langer. The trees will be planted in January at 2019 Capitol Way and 1113 Legion Way.