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PAXTON — Paxton City Council member Bill Goben announced Monday he will not be seeking re-election next year after 18 years on the job, saying he wants to free up his schedule for his impending retirement.
Goben, 58, said he will be retiring from his 42-year career as a ticket agent for the National Railroad Passenger Corp., commonly known as Amtrak, when he turns 60 in January 2014. Goben said he wants to retire with no commitments, so he decided he will leave the city council when his term expires at the end of next April.
“I’m really cutting all strings for no other reason than my retirement,” Goben said. “I don’t want to have a commitment and not be able to meet that commitment. ... So I don’t want to have a lot of ties to organizations or anything else. I just want to sit back and see what we want to do to enjoy life.”
Goben has been known as one of the more opinionated and outspoken members of the council since he was first appointed to fill a vacated seat on July 11, 1994. Just months before accepting the appointment, Goben was narrowly defeated in his first bid for election to the council.
“I’ve always had strong opinions on things,” Goben said. “I remember a reporter one time called me ‘controversial,’ and I wasn’t mad about that; I was actually kind of proud of that. If I had been controversial, it’s because I have an opinion. I’d have other aldermen sometimes say I’d lose my cool and get mad, and I remember telling them, ‘Don’t confuse mad with fighting for what you think is right.’ You don’t come off all nice all the time when you believe in something and fight for it.”
Goben, who currently serves as chairman of the police committee and previously was chairman of the airport committee and city property/parks/forestry committee, said he has “enjoyed immensely” his time on the council and has “never lost a minute of sleep over the decisions I’ve made.”
The only decision Goben says he has come to regret was the council’s passage of an ordinance last year regulating the storage of construction equipment in areas zoned for residential use.
“There have been hard decisions I’ve had to make from time to time in placing votes, none moreso than this past fall and into spring where we literally had to pass a law because of one man,” Goben said. “I’ve always regretted the fact that I would change a law that would affect thousands of people based on just one individual. I do regret that vote, and that’s probably the only vote I really regretted.”
There were plenty of fonder memories for Goben, of course. He said he particularly enjoyed serving on the city property/parks/forestry committee because the committee handles such a wide range of duties, overseeing the use of all city property, “from the buildings right down to the blades of grass in the parks and anything in between.”
Meanwhile, for the last few of Goben’s terms, he has been chairman of the police committee. That job has come with much change, including the police department relocating to new offices on North Railroad Avenue and the department’s nonsupervisory officers joining a labor union two years ago.
One thing Goben has learned over the years is that planning for the future is important. Goben said it can be a challenge finding ways to grow the town economically, while still maintaining a small-town feel.
“I think sometimes we need to loosen up a little bit and work to attract more people from out of town,” Goben said, “but at the same time, we don’t want to lose the small-town charm we’ve grown up with and know so well.”
Goben said he and his wife of 34 years, Sandy, hope to do some motorcycle or train traveling in their retirement, while also spending time with their two grandchildren, Tyler and Chase.
“It’s been a great experience. I’m proud of the time I served the city, and I’m very proud of the community,” Goben said.
Goben said he wanted to announce his plans now so that anyone interested in running for his seat in the April 9, 2013, consolidated election can make plans to do so. He noted that the period in which candidates can begin circulating nominating papers for the election is fast approaching — with a tentative starting date of late August or early September.
Goben encouraged residents of Ward 1 — an area that includes the northeast quadrant of Paxton — to get involved, attend council meetings and see if the job is a good fit.
“If you have an opinion, it’s OK to drop it at the restaurants, but if you really have an opinion, drop it on the floor of City Hall on the second Monday of each month,” Goben said. “Then you’ll find out it’s not coffeeshop talk anymore; it’s for real; it’s the big show.
“It’s a tough time with the state in the shape it’s in and our communities suffering financially somewhat, but it’s a good time for people to come on with strong opinions and a willingness to help the community in which they live.”
Six of the eight aldermen’s seats, plus the mayor’s, are on the ballot in the consolidated election next April. Alderman Brad Marshall, as well as Mayor Bill Ingold, said they are planning to run for re-election.
However, Alderman Del Bruens said he has not made up his mind, and Alderman Josh Garrell had no comment on his plans.
Alan Meyer was absent from Monday’s meeting and could not be reached for comment by press time. The eighth seat up for election remains vacant.
Not up for re-election next year are Rick Wolfe and Dan Beppler.