Rick Hansen, who has lived in Puyallup since 1979, spent 14 years as a city council member and mayor pro-tem in the 1980s. During the past four years, he’s been the mayor of the east Pierce County community.
Hansen’s last council meeting as mayor was Dec. 10. His final term will conclude next week.
Hansen said more time with family and friends is in his future, as well as more boating.
He said one of the things he will miss most is the ongoing relationship between the city and the personnel at Joint-Base Lewis McChord, including the 6200 Maintenance Squadron and the 2nd Stryker Brigade, Puyallup’s Community Connector.
The Herald caught up with Hansen for a question-and-answer session before he leaves office.
Puyallup Herald: What inspired you to run for city council in 1980?
Rick Hansen: I watched a small farmer get steamrolled verbally by the city attorney. This did not seem fair, and I hoped I could help bring about change so that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen again.
PH: What do you remember as significant during your first eight years on council?
RH: (City) established an industrial/commercial area in the north section of Puyallup. First phase of the South Hill Mall. The Fairchild Semiconductor (now Benaroya Business Park), and the first attempt to start the Riverfront Trail. Obtaining property for parks and obtaining lodging tax funds for Puyallup.
PH: What brought you back to the council in 2008?
RH: I observed council weakness in business and financial decision-making, a lack of transparency, and no term limits for council members. I hoped I could bring about change in all of these areas.
PH: During the past six years, what have you been most proud of concerning the council?
RH: Council’s improved ability to work together as a unit, which facilitated decisions to reduce the city’s long-term debt by $30 million; drastically reduced outside legal expenses; increased the amount of downtown parking; created a more transparent government; televised council meetings; returned the police department’s traffic unit; and established strong relationships with schools, businesses, hospital, the Fair and neighboring cities.
PH: While you were mayor, where did you draw strength and inspiration to lead?
RH: My strength and inspiration is drawn from my family, friends and faith.
PH: What was your favorite part of the job? What was your least favorite?
RH: My favorite part of my duties as mayor was appreciating and thanking staff, citizens and council members for all the good things they do. My least favorite part of the job was not always being able to explain everything to help the public to understand our decisions.
PH: What do you hope will be your legacy as the people of Puyallup look back on your service?
RH: That I created a welcoming and friendly internal culture within city government, resulting in putting service first for citizens of the community.
PH: What is a significant achievement you hope the new council will accomplish during the next four years?
RH: It is my hope that the council will continue to work hard to maintain a viable parking-friendly downtown as well as continue to work to establish a new public safety building, including the police, jail and court systems, in one building.
PH: What was the single most defining moment in Puyallup for you during the past 30 years?
RH: There is not one thing but many that have caused Puyallup to become a vibrant recognized center of east Pierce County. We need to continue to be aware and involved in what happens outside our city so we are not forgotten in decision making.
PH: What are your plans post-city council?
RH: I hope to spend more time with my family and friends. I am also joining a business that facilitates business mergers and acquisitions. Go boating!