Housekeeper stepping down after 14 years as member of city council
Tecumseh City Council held a small reception for council member Pat Housekeeper prior to its Monday, Oct. 21, meeting and presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation for her years of dedicated service during the session. Housekeeper will be vacating her seat following the November 4 meeting in order to be more available to family, including her grandchildren who live in Denver, Colo.
“I will definitely miss serving on council and I’ve enjoyed seeing our town prosper, and continue to keep its downtown businesses going well,” she said. “There is just a unique ambience in this community.”
She said she’s watched the city being maintained through some very hard times, and also been impressed by how hard-working the city staff is, from the offices at City Hall to street and utility department workers.
“They have always, in my mind, been really top-notch people, and they’ll always readily respond when there is a storm or accident or whatever,” she said.
Housekeeper first ran for city council in 1983 because she had a lifelong interest in the political process and government. She served two terms, until 1987, then came back to council in 2003, serving until the present. She said she had no axe to grind, she just wanted to be involved.
“There was no big issue or special interest then,” she said. “I just had a love for this small town and wanted to contribute in a way I knew that I could.”
She has lived in a historic home on Chicago Boulevard for many years with her husband, Tom, and retired from her position as a Long Term Care Insurance Specialist in 2011.
Housekeeper has seen some good times and some hard times on her watch, and served her terms under the leadership of four city managers including Cal Zorn, Jerome Kisscorni, Frank Crosby and Kevin Welch.
“I had a voice advocating for supporting Kevin Welch coming to our city,” said Housekeeper. “Along with other council members, we were in on the interviewing process.” She believes Welch was a good choice for the city.
“I also saw our biggest manufacturer leave the city when Tecumseh Products left,” she said. But she is also hopeful with some of the things the city has done, such as preparing a new industrial park, for future business to come into Tecumseh.
Housekeeper has also stood her ground when she believed in a particular issue. One of those was her belief in the 1980s in furthering a sidewalk improvement program.
“It was prior to people going back to exercise and walking routines that many people now follow for health reasons,” she said. “The program wasn’t real popular at the time and there was a lot of push-back on fixing the sidewalks with some residents upset with the cost and such. But I believed it was for the good of the community and its appearance, as well as safety and liability. I also think it was in part responsible for my losing my third attempt in the 1987 election.”
In more recent years, Housekeeper believes that the city has done a good job of adding to the quality of life in the community by working on its sidewalk assessment program whenever it could be done.
“The program helps the city keep things maintained and aids in safety,” she said. She likes the fact that people in the city can walk or bike most anywhere safely, and said it’s an added bonus that having a walkable city adds health benefits as people get out and exercise, especially children.
In 2003, Housekeeper said it was Dr. Carlton Cook who encouraged her to run again.
“Once you’ve gone off council, it makes you a little hesitant to make another attempt, but I decided to do it and won.”
Another issue upon which Housekeeper has stood her ground was when a bottling company proposed to bottle city water and sell it.
“I was very opposed to that, and I think my stand may have influenced that issue,” she said. “I think in the county we have other issues with water as well such as run-off into the streams endangering our water supply. Water is going to continue to be an issue for our whole country.”
She said she has gained a lot from serving on council and the takeaway from her experiences includes a pride in the community and having been a part of the governing process.
“In a small town, you can have the same kinds of problems as in the broader respect, but it’s on a smaller scale and easier to address at the local level,” she said. “We can address the issues here before special interests create difficulties for representatives who want to do the right thing, and it becomes more difficult to act in the best interest of the citizens.”
Housekeeper said she may be vacating her seat, but she remains interested in the political process. One of her intentions is to help Pam Byrnes, who has been a state legislator, with her run for U.S. Congress in the 7th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Rep. Tim Walberg. She also intends to remain active in the community she cares so much about.
Three council terms expire and five candidates are on the ballot November 5: Incumbents Gary Naugle and Laurence Van Alstine Jr.; and challengers Vicki Philo, Judith Lividini, and Ann Wann.