BRUNSWICK — An era will end on the Town Council Jan. 7, when John Richardson replaces Councilor Joanne King.
King, who has been the chairwoman for six years and on the council for nine, has seen the town wrestle with the closing of Brunswick Naval Air Station, and embrace developments like Brunswick Landing, Brunswick Station and Amtrak Downeaster service.
On Wednesday she said the time was right for her to step aside.
“For the time being my public life is now over and it’s respectful for the future council for me to take a step back,” King said.
At the council’s final 2012 meeting on Dec. 17, a special public comment period was dedicated to King’s service and commitment to the town. By the end of the night, King had a new viking hat, People Plus T-shirt, gavel and two plaques to show for her work.
Several public officials and community members took the time to thank her and discuss her contributions to Brunswick.
Claudia Knox, secretary of the Brunswick Downtown Association, thanked King “for leading the way to a healthier prospering downtown community.”
“As a result directly of your nine years of application of your high standards that balanced fiscal discipline and long term investment, tangible results have replaced the hodgepodge of ill-defined wishes,” Knox said. “The list of achievements on your watch is long and most are highly visible.”
David Knight, a BDA board member, invited King to participate in the organization’s annual bed race next November and gave her the viking helmet and a “ceremonial” pillow to use.
“You don’t have to just wear this at the bed race,” Knight said. “You can wear it at home, and we really would appreciate if you could put that on right now.”
King politely declined the invitation, but accepted the gifts.
Catherine Longley, treasurer of Bowdoin College, offered thanks from college President Barry Mill for King’s service.
“Many will agree that the reuse plan for (BNAS) would not have come out as well without your leadership. And being a small business owner made you uniquely qualified to fulfill your leadership role on the council and economic development in Brunswick.”
Don Gerrish, the former town manager, also thanked King.
“You heard earlier earlier that Joanne wasn’t afraid to speak her piece to let you know what she thought,” Gerrish said, “but she was always fair and she was always there when you needed her.”
Stacy Frizzle, executive director of People Plus, reflected on a memory she had when King spoke at an event for teenage girls about her experience as a councilor and woman business owner.
“You were very impactful that day speaking to those young ladies,” Frizzle said, “and after you left we stayed around and had some lemonade and one of the girls was talking to her friend and she said, ‘when I grow up I want to be like her.’ So I wanted to share that with you.”
Police Chief Richard Rizzo presented a plaque to King with an image of the new police station, which is being constructed at Stanwood and Pleasant streets.
In honor of her time as chairwoman, Town Manager Gary Brown presented a gavel for King to use at home.
“When I get lonely for you guys, I’m going to just sit at the table and pound the table,” King said.
At the end of the meeting, King thanked her family, public officials and the citizens for “giving me the privilege to serve them.”
Later, King said she’s also thankful for all of the relationships she has made with people she otherwise wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t served on the council. She said she will now spend time focusing on her business and family.
Reflecting on her time on the council, King said it was a great learning experience for someone who barely knew anything about it nine years ago.
“I’m really proud of this achievement in my life,” she said. “It was really gratifying to see my kids who were there Monday night, and I showed them you can do anything you can put your mind to.”