Goodbye, and thank you

LACEY - About 60 people gathered Monday to say goodbye to three City Council members who guided the city through one of its most transformative periods.

Mayor Graeme Sackrison, Deputy Mayor John Darby and Councilwoman Ann Burgman, the council’s longest-serving member, were defeated during last month’s elections in what has been described as an unprecedented shakeup. They have a combined 36 years of service on the council.

Speakers at the farewell ceremony praised the council members for their service and accomplishments in the face of long hours, complex issues and public criticism.

“Dedicated public servants like this are hard to come by,” said Nancy Peterson, a former Lacey mayor.

Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, also a former Lacey mayor, was impressed with how kernels of ideas discussed during her tenure on the elected body have now been added to the list of accomplishments for the three outgoing council members.

Speaking on behalf of the city’s more than 200 employees, City Manager Greg Cuoio thanked the council members for treating department heads as partners, a unique relationship among municipal governments that created an atmosphere of creativity, innovation, trust and confidence.

“We have done so much in Lacey in such a short time period,” he said.

In their remarks, the council members expressed gratitude at being allowed to shape a vision for the community and confidence that the city’s future is in good hands.

“It’s been my great privilege to serve the citizens of Lacey all these years,” Burgman said.

Sackrison encouraged Lacey residents to take part in their community.

The council members led the city during a period of great change, most recently reflected in the explosion of residential and retail development followed by the sharp decline in growth due to the recession and collapse in the housing market.

The council’s recent accomplishments include improving the health of Woodland Creek, developing the Regional Athletic Complex and the Lacey Woodland Trail, and creating a retail and job center in Hawks Prairie known as the Lacey Gateway Town Center.

They have also had to deal with the ramifications of that growth by building and expanding roads, increasing the supply and conservation of water, and amending an ordinance to better protect trees.

The audience included several former Lacey mayors, past and present department heads and business leaders. Olympia Mayor Doug Mah and Tumwater Mayor Ralph Osgood, who also is leaving office at the end of the month, also spoke.

Sackrison has served on the council since 1997. He is the first Lacey council member to serve as a mayor during separate tenures, 2000 to 2003 and 2008 to 2009. Prior to joining the council, he was a member of the Lacey Planning Commission from 1994 to 1997.

City voters do not independently elect the mayor and deputy mayor in Lacey’s system of government. They are selected by the council members and serve two-year terms.

Darby has served since 2002. He was deputy mayor for the past two years.

Burgman began her service in 1994. She was deputy mayor from 1998 to 2001.

Their terms expire Dec. 31. They will be replaced by Ron Lawson, Cynthia Pratt and Andy Ryder.

Christian Hill: 360-754-5427