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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Proctor leaves council after 16 years

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Putnam County Councilman Mitch Proctor says some parting words to his fellow councilors at Tuesday's meeting. Proctor, who has served on the council since 1995, will not return as a councilman in 2011.
GREENCASTLE -- When Mitch Proctor took office as the First District County Councilman almost 16 years ago, there was no easing into the job.

At his first meeting in January 1995, Proctor was elected the council president. While the move wasn't entirely surprising -- the Republican Party had already approached him about the idea -- it was sink or swim from day one. Proctor described the situation as "scary."

"Coming into it, having hardly ever seen a council meeting, it was daunting," Proctor said.

Putnam County Council President Darrel Thomas, left, presents a plaque and gavel to outgoing council member Mitch Proctor for 16 years of service. Proctor spent all his years on the council except 2010 as the council president. [Order this photo]
On Tuesday, after 16 years on the council -- and 15 as president -- Proctor served at his last meeting, even making the motion for adjournment at night's end.

Both during and after the meeting, Proctor took time to reflect on his time serving the county, particularly his time leading the council.

The Republicans retook control of the county council in 1995, and none of the incumbents wanted to be president. Of the three new Republican members, Proctor was the choice to take the lead.

"The party asked me if I was nominated if I would accept the position. I, probably, from a business standpoint had a little more experience than the other two guys that got elected with me," Proctor said.

When it came down to county business, though, Proctor and his fellow council members didn't let party politics get in the way. Given his tall order of serving as president, he got help from one of his Democrat counterparts.

"Luckily, Nancy Michael was the outgoing president," Proctor said. "She sat at my right side and basically guided me through my first few months, to make sure I didn't stumble and fall and make a complete fool of myself."

This cooperation reflects the message Proctor gave his fellow councilors at Tuesday's meeting, following the presentation of a plaque and gavel for Proctor's years of service.

"I've always told new council members, politics stay at the doorstep. Our job is to take care of the people's business," Proctor said. "It's not because of the pay; it's because you wanted to step up and be counted."

The business of the county and the people is what Proctor said he and his fellow councilors have focused on these 16 years.

"In 16 years, we've seen good times in the county where we were prosperous, hiring people, doing everything. And then we've had very lean years," Proctor said. "When I came in we were very lean, then things got good, and now we've gone back to the lean times.

"This board, with its members currently, the new guys coming on and the ones in the past have always stepped up and truly done what needed to be done," he added. "It wasn't always popular; it wasn't always easy. But they had the intestinal fortitude to step up and do what had to be done."

On the other hand, Proctor also has a sense of humor about the work he's done on the council.

"My wife said, 'When you started, the county was broke.' I said, 'I haven't done a very good job. Nothing's changed,'" he said with a laugh.

Reflecting on his time, though, Proctor is a man who had an interest in taking a more active role. For the better part of two decades, he's simply made the most of that opportunity.

"The first district council seat came up and my father-in-law happened to be the precinct committeeman. He said, 'Hey, you've always talked about politics; I've got an open spot. It's your district. Why don't you step in and give it a try?' My wife and I talked about it, we bought signs, did the campaigning and won," Proctor said. "I've just kind of been chugging along since then."

A year ago, knowing he would not be returning to the council in 2011, Proctor recommended the council find a different president in 2010.

"Darrel (Thomas) had been the vice president for several years. He was the logical person to step up and take over the seat," Proctor said. "I've kind of enjoyed just being a councilman for a year. I actually get to talk a little bit, make some motions. But being president never stopped me from interjecting my own opinions when I thought they needed to be made."

With his time, particularly the third Tuesday evening of each month, now free, Proctor said he doesn't have particular plans. He's sure he'll make due, though.

"Maybe my wife and I will get out do some things on Tuesday nights we never had the chance to do before," he said.

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