EAST JORDAN — Russ Peck, a longtime public servant in East Jordan, marked his final city commission meeting on Tuesday night.
Peck had previously announced in October his intention to resign as mayor. He retired from his work as an activities aide at Grandvue Medical Care Facility in April.
“The decision was made so I could travel,” Peck told the News-Review on Wednesday. “That’s one of the things that made me make the decision.”
In all, Peck has served for nearly 22 years as city commissioner and mayor. His work with the city began in 1988, when he was asked to fill the position of an outgoing commissioner.
“I was asked by the commissioners if I would take that position and I did,” Peck said. “I lasted and ran almost every year and was reelected every year. I left that position in 1999. And I took 10 years off and things weren’t kind of going the right way, I thought, and I ran again … it was about 10 years ago and I’ve been there ever since.”
Over his long career in East Jordan city government, Peck said a few moments stand out, including “Back when I was here the first time around East Jordan was known as the fastest-growing city in Michigan, and that was something I’ll treasure.”
“I think the thing that’s really going to stick out the most is EJ announcing its moving of the (company’s longtime foundry operation to Elmira) and how much that has increased the interest in East Jordan,” Peck added. “East Jordan has always been an interesting place and I was kind of sorry to see them move out and then all of the sudden we got popular. I’m happy for East Jordan. It’s got a great future.”
At Tuesday’s city commission meeting, current mayor Mark Penzien presented Peck with a few ceremonial gifts, including a plaque, a gavel, a key to the city and a display that includes a photo of East Jordan the year that Peck was born and a photo from this year.
The other city commissioners also expressed their thanks to Peck.
“I don’t see tears in people’s eyes too often, but there were some that were starting,” Penzien said during Tuesday’s meeting. “He’s been through a lot with our city and has been a good leader and kept us going.”
Tom Cannon, the city administrator, said the position of mayor is not voted on by East Jordan residents but is elected by the commissioners during an organizational meeting in November. At that meeting last month, Penzien was elected to serve as mayor.
Cannon added that the commission is expected to begin taking applications for Peck’s now-vacated commissioner seat in January. An appointment will need to be made for someone to fill the remainder of Peck’s term, which is due to expire in November 2021.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Peck said he was “feeling good.”
“I’m happy to be able to just take off and go somewhere and not have to worry about attending a meeting and being able to stay somewhere longer than a week or two weeks,” he said. “It was a plan I formulated when I started my retirement in April, and I just said I’ve got to be able to take off and go. I’m excited about doing that. It was also quite an emotional event last night. But I am absolutely happy that I did it and I’m looking forward to the rest of my life.”