Being an elected official is not a very glamourous position. In small towns, where everyone knows everyone, it can be a very demanding position and a truly thankless task. Especially the mayor's position, considered to be the CEO of the community and the "go to" guy for everything, including the complaint department.
Next month, there will be a new person taking those duties and dealing with the constituents for the first time in nearly a decade. Virgil Van Beek, after serving on the city council and being mayor for nearly 10 years, has less than a week left on the job.
When Virgil Van Beek became mayor, the city was in the midst of dealing with Westmar. He was a calm, steady voice of reason consensus-builder during his tenure, something that that the community needed.
Ever the gracious ambassador and host, Virgil was very much the public face of the community through some very public times: hosting RAGBRAI, the Wells' Dairy Corporate Campus sweepstakes, the filming of the television series "Three Wishes," the construction and opening of the Highways 60 and 75 bypass and the Community Betterment Program just to name a few off of the top of our heads.
In typical Van Beek fashion, his final proclamation for the city gave credit to the citizens and the city staff. He had it framed and requested that it be hung be hung above where citizens can pick up the agendas for city council meetings so that they can always be reminded of the good work that the city employees and staff do on behalf of the town.
It read: "Now, therefore, I Virgil Van Beek, Mayor of Le Mars, Iowa do hereby proclaim my last proclamation as Mayor of the finest city with the best citizens anywhere this day, December 19, 2007, a day to honor all city employees and call their significance to the attention of all our citizens."
Thanks, Virgil for your hard work, tact and stewardship of the mayor's position. Enjoy your retirement, you've earned it.