Monday’s meeting marked the last regularly scheduled meeting for two outgoing Mount Airy councilmen.
Council President Peter Helt and Councilman Bob King, who chose not to seek re-election, have been mainstays on the town council. The two will take years of institutional experience with them when they vacate their seats officially in the middle of May.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Helt said.
Helt has sat on the council for 16 years, several of which he served as council president. He said he is looking for things to do now that he will not have to dedicate as much time to the town.
King decided against running again after seven years on the council. He said he made his decision with his wife. He will turn 65 in June, and the two are starting to plan for their future.
“Doing this job has been so much more fun than it has been aggravating,” King said during the meeting.
King’s wife Terri thanked Helt and King for their service and said in public comment that she would miss attending events with Helt.
To King, she thanked him for his time on the council and said the decision to not run was not made lightly.
“You are amazing,” Terri King said. “You are dedicated. You are strong.”
King said he is most proud of being the catalyst to rezone the ground for the Mount Airy Fireman’s Reception Hall from residential to commercial, which allowed the fire company to put more money into the property and continue to have a strong presence in the community.
King still plans to be active in the town, he said. He will just be before the council instead of on it.
“Going out on an upswing is a good thing,” he said.
Although Helt said he believes the new council will do well, he is concerned about the lack of institutional knowledge, he said. During the council meeting, he urged the council members to talk to town staff and participate in the Maryland Municipal League.
“Before you make any decision, run them by staff,” he said.
Councilman Jason Poirier, who was elected for a second term Monday, is now the most senior councilman. He learned from King and Helt in the four years he served on the council with them, he said. And he plans to educate the new members from the knowledge he gained.
Although Helt and King will no longer be on the council, it does not mean their involvement in the town will end, said Pamela Reed, a newly-elected councilwoman. She will fill one of the vacated seats.
“I think their counsel and advice will continue even after their seat expires,” Reed said.
Patty Washabaugh and Mayor Pat Rockinberg gave tribute to the two councilmen. Washabaugh read a letter from New Market council’s Lawrence “Jake” Romanell, who worked with Helt and King through the Maryland Municipal League.
In the letter, Romanell thanked Helt and King for their years of service.
Rockinberg called Helt and King community leaders instead of politicians. He thanked them for their service.
“Our community is a better place because of you two,” Rockinberg said.