GOSHEN — There will be a glaring absence at the tables during the first city council meeting of 2013 on Jan. 2.
That’s because for the first time in years, Tom Stump will not be seated up front with the rest of city council.
Friday morning, Mayor Allan Kauffman took the opportunity to combine his annual holiday open house with an event of appreciation for Stump’s two-plus decades on the council, recognizing the years of work Stump has put in and wishing him well as he joins the Elkhart County Council.
“The city’s loss is the county’s gain,” Kauffman said at the celebration.
Stump, who has been on the Goshen council for 21 years and has sat as president for at least seven, spoke highly of his time working for Goshen and said he thinks he’s accomplished what he set out to do.
“I feel that we’ve done a lot of good things for Goshen,” he said. “We’ve had our differences and we have our arguments and we’ve been able to get by those and work together and make a better city.”
Stump noted the great cooperation he’s had with department heads, fellow council members and two mayors, and has seen an attitude change within the city over his years of involvement.
“Not all the city employees were treating the citizens with the respect they deserved,” he observed, referring to the attitude within city government when he first ran for council.
“Sometimes the people that work in government think the citizens are working for them,” Stump continued. “And actually the people in government are working for the citizens and sometimes they need to be reminded of that. I think that’s improved over 25 years.”
“I think he’s brought a level head,” Kauffman said. “He and I have disagreed on some things over the years but we always respectfully disagree.”
Kauffman especially appreciated his ability to listen to opinions. “Tom is not intransigent in what he believes either. He’ll take an opinion but he’ll continue to listen to the input and he’s willing to change his mind. I think he’s done a good job representing the community.”
Kauffman said the council will likely vote for their new president at the Jan. 15 meeting. Generally the majority party — in this case the Republicans — will choose one of their own to be president, but since councilman Ed Ahlersmeyer will be absent from the Jan. 2 meeting, council will likely wait to nominate and vote.