Stephen Rapundalo at last meeting on Ann Arbor City Council: 'It's been a privilege and an honor'
The Ann Arbor City Council offered a final farewell to Stephen Rapundalo Thursday night, thanking him for his six years of service on council.
"I was thinking about the very first time I ever met you," said Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, recalling Rapundalo's work on water backup issues in the city.
"You were not a council member. You were a private citizen out there working very hard on one of our committees that did a lot of work," she said, also recalling Rapundalo's past service as chairman of the city's Park Advisory Commission.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Thursday marked Rapundalo's last meeting after losing to Independent challenger Jane Lumm in Tuesday's election. Lumm will be sworn in Nov. 21.
"It's been a privilege and an honor and just a lot of darn fun serving with all of you," the outgoing council member said toward the end of the meeting. "I tried to do so with dignity, with thoughtfulness, and integrity. It's the only way I've ever known how to do things. And as some of you have pointed out, I pretty much call it like I see it."
Rapundalo said he enjoyed working with former City Administrator Roger Fraser and one of his regrets is he won't be around to keep working with new City Administrator Steve Powers. He said his biggest thanks goes out to the city's staff members.
"You're only as good as the people around you," Rapundalo said. "And I think the public should realize that all of staff — I don't care what corner of the organization — works very, very hard. I don't think they get enough respect and recognition for all their hard work."
Mayor John Hieftje said he'll miss Rapundalo's scientific way of thinking. Rapundalo's professional background is in pharmaceutical research and development.
Council Member Carsten Hohnke, D-5th Ward, said Rapundalo will be remembered for doing the tough and sometimes unpopular work that needed to be done.
"You are somebody who has never veered away from saying what needs to be said — and what a lot of people would rather shy away from," agreed Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward. "And I think you have a lot of courage and a lot of great insight. You are very thoughtful — one of those amazing thinkers who we need on council."
Council Members Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, and Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, recalled being on opposite sides of many issues with Rapundalo but still respecting him. Anglin said he worked with Rapundalo on the city's liquor license committee and admired his work ethic.
"I have to say, he did an outstanding job," Anglin said, recalling Rapundalo started on "the rudimentary things necessary to get the liquor board in shape."
"I hope in some small way I've been able to make some contributions," Rapundalo said. "I certainly have worked on a number of issues that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and I think hopefully there's been a small imprint made, whether it be on labor issues or issues related to human services, and there's just a whole laundry list I guess."
Council Member Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward, said he appreciated working alongside Rapundalo as a fellow ward representative.
"One of the things that is sometimes unappreciated," he said, "is the incredible amount of time it takes to serve on a number of committees, on a number of assignments of a very technical and long, drawn-out nature that Stephen Rapundalo has been willing and able to do."
Derezinski said Rapundalo gave a tremendous amount of his time and his personal life for the good of the city and the stage is set now for the future.
Kunselman, who was ousted from office in 2008 before making a comeback a year later, said he understands what Rapundalo is feeling after being voted out.
"I've been where you're going and I know that it's something that you just can't let go of," he said. "It will be on your mind for some time, and that's why I suspect you'll work to come back."
Rapundalo cracked a smile at that statement.
"I really had a lot of fun and I don't know about running again, but I am sure of one thing in that I will certainly find some way to contribute," he said.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.