Tuesday night’s Oakdale City Council meeting, Jan. 20, came to a surprising end when Councilman Don Petersen announced that he would be resigning his position effective Feb. 28.
“My wife and I have decided that our priority now is to spend more time traveling and spending time with family, most of which live out of the area,” Petersen said, reading from his resignation letter. “All of this will make it very difficult to contribute to the quality time and energy required for an effective councilmember.”
Petersen, who still has two years left in his first term, thanked his fellow council members and City Manager Bryan Whitemyer for their hard work over the last two years.
“We sadly accept your resignation,” said Mayor Pat Paul.
After the meeting Paul said she was stunned when she heard prior to the meeting that Petersen would be announcing his resignation.
“He’s been so good to us,” Paul said. “He was a good resource for the business decisions.”
Petersen, who stated he felt the city was in much better shape today than two years ago, credited a team effort which he said extended to the many community committees, commissions, and volunteers.
Petersen was among five candidates that ran for two open positions in 2012 when he won his seat. Since that time he has shown business leadership to make the city financially sound, drawing from his time as an owner of assisted living centers.
“We’re going to miss his business sense, that’s for sure,” said Councilman Tom Dunlop. “His two years were very informative to us.”
Dunlop added that he understood Petersen’s decision noting that being on the council was more than just two meetings per month.
“We sit on a few commissions and there’s meetings and functions for those also,” Dunlop said.
With Petersen’s departure the council is left with Paul and Dunlop and one-month new councilmembers J.R. McCarty and Cherilyn Bairos, who took office in December.
“We have a new council with such positive energy,” said Paul. “I’m hoping we can get someone with equal drive.”
After the meeting Petersen said he made the decision because the city’s economic development was now “on a roll” and the city was operating as it should be. He credited the hiring of Bryan Whitemyer as a key contributor the turnaround.
“At my age I ran not to be a lifetime politician, but to contribute my skills at a time of crisis,” Petersen said. “What I saw when I got in is a lot of finger pointing with prior administrations. The thing I’m most proud of is I got people to start talking to each other rather than blaming each other.”
In April 2012, Oakdale City Councilman Jason Howard resigned his seat to take a job in Grass Valley.
At that time the council could not decide on a replacement and held a special election that year in which former Mayor Farrell Jackson won.
At their Feb. 2 meeting the council will decide if they will go forward with an appointed replacement or hold a city-wide special election.
“I have granddaughters getting older and a new motor home to try out,” Petersen said. “The community will still be in good hands.”