Amid reminiscing, a few tears and expressions of thanks and good luck in his future endeavors, Kenai City Council member Duane Bannock resigned his council position at the board's Wednesday meeting.
Bannock has been appointed director of the state Division of Motor Vehicles by Gov. Frank Murkowski. He and his wife, Carol, and their two sons will move to Anchorage for his new job.
Although Bannock said he is sad to leave Kenai, the position was too good to pass up.
"A fella gets a limited number of opportunities in his life, and if you allow enough of them to go by, they don't come by that often anymore," he said.
Bannock has served on the Kenai council for nine years and was elected in October to serve another three. Before that he served on the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission from 1988 to 1993. He works as the vice president of Kenai Chrysler. He has been a member of the Kenai community for nearly his entire life, his council colleagues and friends in the audience noted.
"I've known him so far back that even he doesn't remember how far back," council member Jim Bookey said.
Council member Pat Porter said she first knew Bannock when she was his school bus driver.
"And now he'll be monitoring the school buses," she joked.
Kenai resident John "Ozzie" Osborne reminisced that he knew Bannock back when he was an assistant Boy Scout Master and Bannock was a Boy Scout.
"I'd like to wish him the best of luck in his new job, and if he ever needs any help, just call on us," Osborne said.
It was his experience in Boy Scouts that got him interested in politics, Bannock said. He attended his first council meeting when he was 15 to get a citizenship badge.
"When I was a Boy Scout I sat right there (gesturing to the audience) and I said 'I could do that,' and here I am," Bannock said. "And there I go."
Bannock will supervise a deputy director and 22 managers and department heads in his new job. He likened that responsibility to dealing with the city's administration as a council member.
"I'm very, very proud of you," he told administration members. "I can only hope that the 22 people (he will supervise) are as knowledgeable and skillful in their jobs as you are at yours. I'm smart enough to know it is the work that's done at your level that allows the council to take credit for things we don't do."
His new position at the DMV is something he is excited to get and probably worked harder for than any of his predecessors, Bannock said.
The only negative aspect of getting it is having to leave Kenai.
"I'm moving away from my family, my home and my friends and that is the downside," he said. "... I'm a better guy and my kids are better kids for what you have given to me and I truly mean that. That's what makes (leaving) very hard, because of what you have done for me."
Bannock vowed his absence from Kenai would not be a permanent one, and even asked Kenai Mayor John Williams if he would store his "Bannock for Mayor" signs from the 2001 election when Bannock made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Williams. Williams said he would find room for the signs, and thanked Bannock on behalf of the council for his years of service and work for the city.
"I'm not done giving back to Kenai yet," Bannock said. "I will come back. This is where my grounding is, and I'm smart enough to remember that."
Bannock's resignation leaves a vacant seat on the council, which the remaining council members will fill by a majority vote. The appointee will serve until the October election, when voters will decide who will finish the two remaining years of Bannock's term.
The council decided to accept applications and resumes from Kenai residents interested in the position. Council members will interview applicants in a work session March 27 and will make an appointment at their April 2 council meeting.
Anyone wishing to apply must be at least 21 and have resided in the city for at least one year. Applications and resumes can be submitted through the city clerk's office.
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