Hawarden’s administrator retires

Posted February 21, 2018 at 10:52 pm

j Haw City Admr Gary Tucker.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

For more than three decades, an Akron native has spent his time in government, creating budgets and making municipal improvements.

On Friday, Hawarden City Administrator Gary Tucker will officially pass the municipal reins to former Hawarden Police Chief Mike DeBruin, and begin a new life’s chapter — retirement.

“It’s been a difficult decision to retire but there comes a time in your life that you need to allow the next generation to take over,” Tucker told The Akron Hometowner last week. “I think I can still provide value in the future to other organizations on a volunteer basis and hope to do that.”

Tucker, who is an Akron Class of 1970 alum, began his career in the banking industry.

In 1995, he made the change to working for governments. From 1995 to 2000, he served as the Akron city administrator. Then he was the Plymouth County Economic Development director until March 2009, when he became Hawarden’s city administrator.

Tucker leaves a legacy of infrastructure improvements to the Hawarden community.

Improvements include converting the city’s electrical distribution system from overhead to underground as well as several electric utility upgrades. Street improvements include the paving projects of Central Avenue, 10th Street and 16th Street. The Hawarden Regional Healthcare expansion project is also on Tucker’s list.

“Those are the big things,” said Tucker. “There are a lot of other examples, including dealing with businesses. Hawarden’s done well and continues to have a bright future.”

Topping the list Tucker will pass on to DeBruin are wastewater plant improvements and the paving of Avenue L.

“Technology has changed the way we deliver services and will continue to in the future,” said Tucker. “Most of area governments have to find a way to do more with less.”

“Expenses continue to rise and revenues don’t seem to keep up,” he said. “We have to continue to look at additional shared services with other communities (such as the police protection Hawarden provides the Ireton community). We’ll need to look at more opportunities for all of us to coexist.”

“Economic development issues are a challenge for all governments, especially for small communities in this area,” said Tucker. “I think there’s an importance to eliminate artificial borders and realize what’s good for one community is good for all communities in the area.”

One significance is the amount of training and continuing education hours — it’s increasing exponentially for all areas of city government — including for ambulance and firefighting volunteers, he said. Training provides significant challenges to small communities to provide those services in the future.

Tucker’s final days will have been spent attempting to finalize the FY2017 Budget audit, trying to finalize the city’s FY 2019 Budget, and introducing DeBruin to many of the contacts he’ll need to engage with in the future.

“It’s been great to have been able to fill the city administrator position with someone that we feel is very qualified,” said Tucker. “Mike and I really worked as a team the last nine years. He’s very familiar with day-to-day activities and will do a great job moving forward.”

“The most important advice I could give to him is to be open-minded,” he said, “and listen to everyone’s input prior to making a decision. Communities are made up of people with a variety of needs and expected outcomes. We have to represent everyone.”

“I’ve been blessed with an amazing staff,” said Tucker. “It’s been a great community in which to live and work and I thank everybody for the opportunity to hopefully leave Hawarden in a great position for their future. I’ve really enjoyed it here.”

“I love Hawarden,” he said, “and I love everybody here. It was a hard decision but I’m excited to be back in Akron.”

Tucker has purchased his late father’s Akron home so he can be closer to his family: son and daughter-in-law, Cory and Theresa Tucker, and grandchildren, Kailee and Will.

After making some household upgrades, Tucker plans to spend a lot of time riding his Harley motorcycle, taking some journeys.

“I hope to find some opportunities to do some volunteer work — give back,” said Tucker, noting several have given him some ideas but he hasn’t made any decisions yet. He wants to settle into retirement first.

Comments are closed.