Auburn bids farewell to Mayor Lewis, Councilman Partridge

Outgoing Mayor Pete Lewis, left, and Councilmember  John Partridge share a moment with well-wishers at their farewell reception Monday.  - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Outgoing Mayor Pete Lewis, left, and Councilmember John Partridge share a moment with well-wishers at their farewell reception Monday.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

Anybody who looked for the water sure to be misting Pete Lewis' and John Partridge's eyes or the unavoidable hints of sadness on their faces must have figured out right away that they were dealing with the wrong two guys.

During the farewell reception at City Hall on Monday night and the council meeting afterward, the talk was upbeat, and the laughs, smiles and jokes frequent.

"People talk about mixed feelings, but I'm not really feeling that," Lewis, Auburn's mayor for the last 12 years, said of the end of his tenure. "I've gone through three wonderful, successful councils. We've done four vision maps that included everything we set out to do. Auburn is poised to accomplish so much in the upcoming years, so for me, I just get to watch from a different chair.

Partridge, chair of the Finance Committee, was a member of the Municipal Services Committee, chair of the Sound Cities Association Regional Law, Safety and Justice Committee and the National League of Cities Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee.

Among his proudest accomplishments on the City Council, he said, was the key role he played in establishing the Auburn Valley Humane Society and the AVHS animal shelter on A Street Southeast.

"I feel fulfilled, honored, and I learned a lot," Partridge said of his four-year-term on the City Council. "It's nice to know how the City works, and I am looking forward to seeing what the next four years bring.

"Auburn's my home, my children are the fourth generation in our house. I've got a business to run, and I'm going to be devoting more time to it. I have a daughter — Devanni — to marry March 22 and my youngest is graduating. We've got a lot of family activities to focus on in the next few months," he said.

Partridge would not rule out more political involvement in the future.

Lewis, a former banker, was elected to the Council and began his one term there on Jan. 1, 1998. In November of 2001, he was elected to his first of three consecutive terms as mayor.

Among the boards on which Lewis served were the Association of Washington Cities Economic Development and Infrastructure Subcommittee, of which he was chair, the King County Regional Policy Committee, the Puget Sound Regional Committee Executive and Operations Board, the Valley Communications Board, the Green River Valley Flood Control District, the South County Area Transportation Board and the Sound Cities Association.

Emcee Nancy Backus, who succeeds Lewis in January, set the audience laughing when she asked people how many present knew Lewis was an ex-banker, and almost everybody stuck their paws in the air — Lewis was known to invoke this part of his past at nearly every turn.

Among the key accomplishments in Lewis' term were the construction of the Promenade, the completion of the M Street Overpass and Booth Bridge, the founding of the Valley Regional Fire Authority, the establishment of the SCORE regional jail, the Save Our Streets program, and four annexations, the largest of them Lea and West Hill, which brought Auburn's population from roughly 50,000 to 74,000.

Councilmember Bill Peloza said that Lewis "put Auburn on the map in South King County" and was highly respected for his leadership in bringing the cities of south King County together. He praised Partridge for his hard work on numerous issues, among them solid waste concerns and the founding of the AVHS.

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