Citizen Wausau

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Jim Rosenberg to Step Down

by on July 7th, 2010

I found out yesterday that Jim Rosenberg is stepping down from his position on the City Council, as well as his seat on the County Board.  Jim is moving on to a new challenge and joining Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton’s staff in Madison.  He will take on the role of  Policy and Community Relations Director for the remainder of her term.

According to Jim, he will be resigning from his seats on July 24th.  I believe that this means one more City Council meeting, though he is done at the County Board.

I talked to Jim for a while yesterday about his time here, what he is proud of, what he will miss, and what lays ahead.  I think I was moved to tears while we talked.  Jim joined the Council in 1998, and by all objective measure he has been a part of leading this city in what might be its greatest period of development.  He sat through a few mayors, and a ton of council people.  He officially became statesmanlike (code for old elected official, or many times re-elected official) in recent years.

The reality for me personally is, I have not always understood Jim.  Heck, if being honest, sometimes I found Jim maddening, or even worse adjectives.  With that, though, the reality is I like Jim.  I respect him, and I think he treated me fairly.  I think Jim sees the world in a good, and positive way.  He and I share a similar definition of “community”. Jim talked about the Farmers Market on the City Square in terms of community, inclusion, and connection, which I find to be like catnip.

There is something to be said for the act of running and serving — for being willing to step forward and take the slings and arrows of those people who saw you as an enemy to their vision.  I know first-hand that Jim took that with great regularity.  He was often pounded on by “anonymous” people on forums, or in mail directly to his house.  In some strange way though, Jim never ever seemed upset by it.

Two years ago I saw demons, and conspiracies, and scheming in City Hall.  I was wrong. I was hoping for it to be like an episode of some television drama.  I have spent a bunch of time with Jim (and the others) over the years, and Jim has always calmly showed me when I have been wrong. He has been a good guy to me.  I have not always been a good guy to him, but like I said before, I am not that bright.  Often the whole gift horse in the mouth, or cut off the nose to spite the face, comes to mind.

I had thought of using a minor league baseball metaphor, something about getting called up to the big show or something.  But, that does not really work.  Rosenberg is a nice guy, a good dude, and a sort of passive mentor.  He has helped me learn some things directly, and others he has just simply lead by example.

Now he is going to go work in Madison.  As a community, we were lucky to have him.  We are lucky to have all those who choose to run and choose to lead.  We are even more lucky to elect those people who are willing to work, learn, take it seriously, and be accountable for their actions.  I think whoever takes his seats will have large shoes to fill, and a hard job to carry on with.

Good luck down there, Jim.  You might need a faster scooter, those cats do not play on those roads.

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