Archive for Thursday, October 11, 2007

Heartburn sets in with resignation

October 11, 2007

At innumerable Lansing City Council meetings, the voice from the tall man on the mayor's far right could be heard:

"This gives me some heartburn," Council member Kenneth Ketchum would say, raising an objection to an item on the table.

After 21 years on the council, Ketchum is stepping down. To that, we say, "This gives us some heartburn."

From our vantage point, Ketchum took his responsibility on the council seriously. Whether you agreed with his vote on any particular issue, you couldn't disagree with what we saw as his sincerety that he truly wanted the best for Lansing.

He often spoke of his fondness for the community's youths and elderly. And his support of programs for those constituencies reflected that fondness.

"He's very loyal, very dedicated. He was willing to do anything that was asked of him to help the city," said Mayor Kenneth Bernard, who has served alongside throughout Ketchum's tenure on the council.

"Mr. Ketchum," as most of his colleagues call him, hails from West Branch, Iowa. History buffs might recall that city's most famous native: Herbert Hoover, who served as president during the Great Depression.

Ketchum was born in the midst of the Depression, and perhaps that's why he was fiscally cautious as a council member.

Like many of his fellow council members, Ketchum has a long military background. He spent 22 years with the U.S. Air Force, serving in Korea, Japan, Alaska and Germany.

After his retirement, he went to work for Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affair. A transfer to the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA in Leavenworth brought him to Lansing in 1979.

He first ran - and won - a seat on the Lansing City Council in 1983. He served for 15 years until 1998, then ran again in 2001, was elected and has served ever since.

He's been involved in numerous veterans organizations and has served two terms as the state commander of the Disabled American Veterans.

Council members now will take applications from community members interested in serving out Ketchum's term. There, no doubt, will be qualified applicants, and the replacement likely will serve ably and honorably.

But we can't help but think "Mr. Ketchum" will be missed.

The institutional knowledge he brought to the table will be missed. The questions from the mayor's far right may not come as often.

As we said earlier, "This gives us some heartburn."

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