Archive for Thursday, April 14, 2005

After four-plus years, city council member steps aside

Julian Espinoza to spend more time with family

April 14, 2005

When he was appointed to the Basehor City Council in 2000, Julian Espinoza arrived to find municipal government dealing with issues concerning residential and commercial growth as well as development of the city's wastewater treatment facility.

Four-and-a half years later, Espinoza exits the city government stage with many of the same types of questions facing the city. City officials continue to grapple with issues surrounding growth -- Basehor is listed among the state's fastest growing communities -- and are currently attempting to determine the best course of action in expanding the treatment plant facility.

"So it really hasn't changed much 4 1/2 years later," Espinoza said.

On Monday night, the council terms of the top two officers in city government, City Council president Espinoza and Basehor mayor Joseph Scherer, ended. Neither man ran for re-election.

Espinoza was a resident for 15 months before city officials appointed him to replace outgoing council member Bob Vervaecke.

He won a second term in 2001 and was elevated to council president a year later.

Minutes before he was set to say goodbye to city government Monday night, Espinoza reflected on his past tenure with the council and spoke of needs for the future. He said he's been proud to serve the community he calls home.

"I've really enjoyed, for the most part, everything I've done and everything I've tried to accomplish for the city," Espinoza said. He added, "I'd do it all over again. Life is about experiences. I don't regret doing it at all."

Espinoza, who estimated he spent 20 percent of each working day on city business, said several residents approached him and asked him to run for re-election. Others asked him to consider a mayoral bid. In the end, he bypassed both so he could spend more time with family.

"My kids are getting to the age now when they're going in different directions," he said. "I'm going to spend the bulk of my time with my family, which is where it should be anyway."

Though he's no longer a player in Basehor politics, Espinoza said he'll be highly interested to see where the new administration places its priorities.

For Espinoza's buck, the most pressing issue facing the City Council today is building a unifying vision.

He said the most recent City Council was divided by philosophical differences. When he was elected, council members may not have always agreed, but it seemed they each "shared the same vision."

"Versus now, when I just don't get that feeling," he said. "And I think you can see it by watching the council. It'd be nice if everybody was on the same page. They've all got to get on the same page."

He also said hiring a new and well qualified and experienced city administrator should be next on the City Council's list of priorities.

"We need to find the right person to lead this city on a day-to-day basis," he said.

One of Espinoza's fondest memories from his council service will be a six-week stretch in 2003 and part of 2004 in which he filled in for Scherer, who was out of town on business.

The mayor's absence gave Espinoza the opportunity to spearhead the city's operation.

While he looks back on the time with pride, he said the pleasant memory isn't enough to convince him to run for mayor, or any other city office, in the future. That decision doesn't have to be made for quite some time, and won't be, Espinoza said.

"It's too soon to tell," Espinoza said. "I need a break. I couldn't give you an honest answer on that yet. Right now, it's time for somebody else to do it and that's OK. I never came into this as a lifer."

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