By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – After 24 years as mayor of De Pere, Mike Walsh led his last common council meeting Wednesday, April 8.
“Tonight was the last time we’ll all be together before new council members and a new mayor are sworn in April 21,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for your service to the citizens of De Pere. This goes for all the past council members as well. It was a difficult decision for me not to seek reelection, but I’m not getting any younger, and I wanted to spend more time with my grandchildren while I could still keep up with them.”
Before being elected mayor for the first time in 1996, Walsh worked as a UPS driver and put in 14 years on the city park board.
He said he wanted to start as an alderman, but multiple area residents coaxed him into running for the mayor’s office.
“I’m most proud of the amount of decorum maintained at the council level,” said Walsh. “Even with disagreements and agreeing to disagree, we could always go out together for a refreshment later.”
Since the meeting was held remotely, Walsh said it wasn’t exactly the way he envisioned himself leaving the position after 24 years.
“These are difficult times, and it won’t be easy for all of us, but the city will persevere,” he said. “De Pere is positioned to advance once all of these bad times are behind us.”
Walsh said being mayor was the only job where he truly enjoyed coming to work every day.
“I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of many projects in De Pere which changed the landscape, the expansion and the way the city does business,” he said. “I want to thank all the city employees, my city staff, the heads of the departments and the city administrators who worked hard to make me look good – that’s not an easy thing to do. I also want to thank the citizens of De Pere for their confidence in me to elect and reelect me 12 times. I can’t express how much that means to me. I hope we’ve done some good common sense things over the years that have improved our community. It was my goal to leave the city a better place than when I started.”
Walsh left the city council with a final quote.
“To paraphrase General MacArthur, ‘Old mayors never die, they just fade away,’” he said. “The city will be in good hands from here on out.”
James Boyd was elected mayor April 7 after running unopposed.