Thursday night’s City Council meeting marked the end of an era.
The weekly session was the last for Councilmembers Sally Hart Petersen (D–Ward 2) and Margie Teall (D–Ward 4), as well as mayor John Hieftje, who will be succeeded by current Councilmember Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3).
When all was said and done, Hieftje received a standing ovation from councilmembers after his closing speech, and he thanked councilmembers and city staff.
“I think you have all served very well,” Hieftje said. “But, I also want to mention all the councilmembers that I had the opportunity to serve with over the years.”
He also expressed gratitude to the people of Ann Arbor for the support he received. He said he was thankful for the people who followed Council meetings and spoke to the Council. Hieftje said the Council benefitted from these gestures and the people’s engagements in city issues.
City Administrator Steve Powers thanked Hieftje and councilmembers Teall and Petersen for their work on the Council at their final meeting Thursday.
“You will be missed and we are sorry to see you go,” Powers said. “Please accept our gratitude for your service and support.”
As for the future, Hieftje said he plans to stay in Ann Arbor and live a simple life.
“I’m going to continue to live here and be a taxpayer,” Hieftje said.
Peterson, whose first term on Council ends this year, ran for mayor and therefore relinquished her eligibility to run as an incumbent for her Council seat. During her time on Council, Petersen emphasized and used her business background to focus on economic issues in the city.
During her campaign for mayor, she ran against fellow councilmembers Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1), Steve Kunselman (D–Ward 3) and Taylor, receiving 15.90 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.
As her time on Council ends, Petersen said she hopes to continue serving Ann Arbor through the Disabilities Commission. At Thursday’s meeting, the Council voted unanimously to nominate Petersen as Chair of the Disabilities Commission.
Petersen said she was grateful for Hieftje’s welcome to the Council, as he gave her the opportunity to take a leadership role on committees.
“I thank everyone here because people have been open-minded,” Petersen said. “People have been willing to listen.”
Known as a champion for the neighborhoods of Ann Arbor, Teall has served on the Council for 12 years for the fourth ward. In addition to her time on Council, Teall also served on the Environmental Commission, the Administrative Committee, the board of directors for the annual FestiFools festival and the Labor Committee, among others.
As Teall’s tenure comes to a close, she said she has been nostalgic and has looked at past e-mails to reflect on what being a councilmember meant to her and to sum up her Council experience.
“It’s meant a ton,” she said. “You know, I’ve been here 12 years and I’m floored by how much we’ve accomplished in the 14 years since we’ve had our mayor. We don’t talk about the same problems now. I am very lucky to have served with so many fabulous staff members.”
Teall also said she has no intentions at this time of running for public office again.
“Working with organizations, nonprofits and such,” she said, “(that) would be something I’d like to do.”