By John McLoone Hastings City Councilmember Joe Balsanek said his goodbyes at the Dec. 21 city council meeting. For now, at least. “You never know where I’ll turn up again,” he said in closing …
By John McLoone
Hastings City Councilmember Joe Balsanek said his goodbyes at the Dec. 21 city council meeting.
For now, at least.
“You never know where I’ll turn up again,” he said in closing out his remarks at what turned out to be an emotional farewell. “Public service is in my blood.”
Balsanek lost the Ward 2 race in November to Jen Fox, who will take over the council seat at the turn of the new year.
Balsanek was noted at the meeting for his vital role in key community projects, such as riverfront and downtown redevelopment, the new bridge, and advocating for a new senior citizens center.
Council members and state officials joined in the meeting to bid Balsanek farewell. He served 12 years on the city council, being first elected in 2008. Mayor Mary Fasbender presented – at least inasmuch as she could in a virtual meeting – Balsanek with a print of Hastings City Hall inscribed with a message dedicated to his community service.
“Thanks from all of us, Joe. We’ll miss you,” she said.
“Personally, Joe, I’ve appreciated learning and working with you as mayor,” she said. “I share my sadness in your departure. I’m delighted in knowing what you have done to make Hastings a better place to live, work, play and own a business. We dearly thank you.”
Fasbender’s predecessor, former Mayor Paul Hicks paid tribute to his former colleague, noting how tuned into his constituents Balsanek has been. “I had the distinguished honor of serving with him for 10 years,” Hicks said. “I remember in about 2007, we were working on fixing your street there. We did a little oops on the irrigation system. Joe came to a couple meetings to describe that. In 2008, Joe was elected to the Hastings City Council.”
He noted that Balsanek is a former arts and communications professor and he “always brought a unique perspective to the city council.”
“I always thought he had a different perspective to the world because he taught communications and theater. What neat skills to have to serve the public,” said Hicks. “Joe has the largest email list of anyone I know. If anything happened on the Hastings City Council, the whole Second Ward knew. I think that’s a real tribute to Joe’s transparency and communication to his constituents. He should be congratulated for that.”
As a retiree, Balsanek always made sure the city watched out for senior citizens.
“He also reminded us about how important it is to realize how taxes affected all of us, especially retirees on fixed incomes,” said Hicks.
Hicks closed, “Every single citizen in our community is proud of the contributions you make to our community.”
State Senator Karla Bigham and State Representative Tony Jurgens were on hand with a House Resolution commending Balsanek for his service to Hastings.
“I just want to thank you for many years of service to the City of Hastings and to the community as a whole,” said Bigham.
Jurgens noted, “I don’t think it’s a secret that you and I might be on slightly different spectrums politically, but you never once let that get in the way of doing what’s best for the citizens of Hastings.”
Council member Mark Vaughn noted Balsanek’s passion and pride in the community.
“We’re going to miss you,” he said.
Balsanek remembered his mission of community service with pride, noting that only .0025 percent of citizens get into public service.
“We are part of that percentage, all of us. It is indeed a privilege if such a small number of people have the opportunity to serve our fellow citizens,” Balsanek said. “My whole life has been about public service.”
“The last thing I want to do is thank the public for allowing me for 12 years to work for them,” he said. “I have over 500 email ‘thank yous’ from citizens that I helped over the years. That has always been my pride and joy, being able to help those people whenever I could.”
Joe is an avid golfer and restores doll houses as a hobby.
See Balsanek Page 3 Balsanek
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He and wife, Betsy, have been married
His commitment to serving the public doesn’t stop here.
“Public service is in my blood,” he said. “It ain’t gonna go away.”
Outgoing Ward 2 City Councilmember Joe Balsanek was honored in an emotional farewell at the Dec. 21 city council session.