Outgoing Muskegon Mayor Steve Warmington Says Goodbye To Office, Not Advocacy

Andrew Trzaska | June 26, 2012

Outgoing Muskegon mayor Steve Warmington reflected on his multiple terms as mayor at the end of Tuesday’s city commission meeting.

“It’s been 10 and a half absolutely terrific years,” said Warmington.  Warmington served two and a half terms, most recently running unopposed for the office in 2009.

Warmington individually thanked city head staff, city department employees, law enforcement, firefighters, commissioners past and present, those who campaigned for him, residents involved in committees and neighborhood associations, and even the employees of his business, the Marine Tap Room at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The successes we have shared in the past ten and a half years… trust me, they weren’t accomplished by Steve Warmington. They were accomplished by a team of people,” said Warmington.

Regarding the cost cutting he oversaw that began near the end of his first term in office, he acknowledged the difficulty:

“We’ve had to make cuts in the last seven years where we had to cut services and people… hat’s not what we ran for, but that’s some of the tough decisions we have to make.”

Warmington also thanked local news, especially the Muskegon Chronicle, for challenging him to be a better mayor:

“Whether we agree or disagree, we owe a great deal of gratitude to the Muskegon Chronicle, this news service.”

Warmington took time to criticize the territorial nature of towns within the county:

“I love this county but I swear folks, sometimes we are our own worst enemy.”

Warmington went further to speak strong words regarding the Muskegon County Commission:

“We need to change the attitude at the county commission. We need people who are going to represent people of this county. Not a party, not a particular interest group, not a particular subject. They need to begin to bring this county together. They represent all of us, and the leadership needs to come to the table, not the individual communities.”

Addressing the matter of his vacant seat, the mayor pointed to vice mayor Steve Gawron, his rumored heir-apparent, and indicated there would likely be a city commission seat to fill once the mayor’s seat was taken care of. He then downplayed the commission’s overall change in purpose despite the human changes:

“What isn’t going to change is the love and care [the city commission] has for this community.”

Warmington indicated he would continue to serve on the violent crime task force he formed two years ago, continue to advocate for the consolidation of services across multiple municipalities, own and operate the Marine Tap Room and “take a different tack” on getting rid the “archaic” civil service system the city is again trying to eliminate this year.

“We need to get rid of that system. We are losing qualified employees because of that system.”

In a tearful conclusion, the mayor acknowledged his parents:

“I’m fortunate enough to still have my mother and father. And they’ve been very proud of me before, but for them to say “my son’s the mayor”, I know has meant a lot to them. So, thank you for allowing me to serve. It has been a privilege to serve you. It has been a privilege to work with all of you. And I love Muskegon, it is a great place.”

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst