by Melissa Martin
Dec. 19 city council meeting
City council celebrated the retirement of longtime Mayor Jerry Hruby Dec. 19 during his final council meeting – not only for 2023, but for his 36-year career as Brecksville’s Mayor.
Hruby, who was sworn into office Jan. 2, 1988, decided earlier this year that he would not seek re-election on the November 2023 ballot. Former Council member Daryl Kingston has since been elected to the position and was sworn into office during the Jan. 2 city council meeting.
As part of his goodbye speech, Hruby noted that during his tenure as the city’s mayor, he’s overseen the construction of numerous city buildings, including the city’s community center; Kids Quarters playground; the recycling building; the human services center; community center addition; the Stadium Drive salt barn; the Blossom Hill service department facility; the horticulture building; the Blossom Hill soccer, baseball and turf fields; two lighted pavilions at Blossom Hill; the police station; outdoor aquatic center; community center natatorium; the community gardens; the new library; the bicentennial walkway, and the new fieldhouse.He also noted that the fire station, service garage, old Town Hall, service buildings at Blossom Hill, public square and the bandstand were also renovated during his time in office.
Hruby also mentioned several pieces of property the city has acquired during his tenure, along with the construction of multiple retail expansions, shopping centers, parking areas and 31 city subdivisions.
“All of that happened because of the cooperation between council and the administration and then again, the work of our people,” Hruby said. “It’s rather incredible the amount that has been done during that period of time and it humbles me when people say, ‘Well, mayor.’ … Mayor, nothing. We had a whole group of people who dedicated themselves towards this city.”
Hruby said it’s not the creation of any particular building or place that makes him most proud of the work that’s been accomplished since he took office. Instead, he said, it’s the coining of the term, ‘city family.’
“I’m proud of that because to the city employees that work here, they understand what that means,” he said. “The way they stick together, the way they work together, the way they help each other, the way they take care of each other is remarkable and they truly are a city family.”
A teary-eyed Hruby told council and the audience in attendance at city hall that because of his city family, it was difficult for him to make the decision to step down as the city’s mayor.
“Even though I’ve been here 55 years and 36 as mayor, but I looked at how happy Lou Carouse was and how happy Jerry Broski was, and I thought, ‘What am I doing?’” Hruby joked. “But it’s time to go and I knew it was time to go a while ago. It’s time to go home, spend time with my lovely wife. … “I love this city, I’m so very, very proud to have been mayor. I can only tell you, ‘Thank you, I really appreciate it.’”
Hruby did not step down without first leaving behind a piece of advice for city council and city employees.
“I challenge all of you to take heed to the way that we did things, how we cooperated, we worked together, and the word, ‘respect,’ is so vitally important to do what you do,” Hruby said. “I’m seeing a decline in that in our community, unfortunately. That’s the only negative thing I’ll say. But respect is so very, very important. And for those of you who have not been up here or have not worked for the city, get in their shoes one time and find out what It’s really like and you’ll understand.”
The Dec. 19 meeting was also the final meeting for Council President Laura Redinger, who also decided not to pursue re-election last fall. She thanked the mayor for his service and for the 12 years she served alongside him.
“With his leadership here, I’ve learned a lot. He’s made serving the residents of Brecksville a pleasure,” she said.
Former Councilman Lou Carouse and several other former councilmembers and city leaders were also in attendance at the meeting. Carouse shared his sentiments about working alongside Hruby.
“This is to let all the others know how special you’ve made our working relationship,” he said.
Carouse noted that over his 36 years as mayor, Hruby served with 18 different councils and 28 different council members and managed to build a special relationship with each and every one who served.
“Not all municipalities operate this way, and I can say it is one of the key reasons we have worked so well and led the city together,” Carouse told Hruby. “Most of all, you communicated so very well with us.”
Carouse also noted that Hruby not only allowed council to have full access to his department heads, but he also supplied additional material on a weekly basis to make sure council had the detail they needed to make informed decisions and to discuss issues thoroughly ahead of meetings.
“You gave council so much credit for city accomplishments that, though we were appreciative, were mostly the result of efforts of you and your staff,” he told Hruby. “You were not one to press council to do things. You always looked to build consensus before moving forward, even if just one of us had questions. You always stepped up for city council to deal with issues and questions from the public when there was uncertainty. … You set the professional tone for how we operated with the highest integrity and you created a family feeling within the city that we have all come to enjoy and appreciate.”
Carouse ended his comments by thanking Hruby collectively on behalf of all current and former councilmembers.
“Your legacy is forever stamped in our community. We know mayor-elect Kingston has big shoes to fill but I’m positive he’s up to the task knowing that you have forever shown us the Brecksvile way.” ∞