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Fausett set to retire

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | DECEMBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Tears streamed down Kendra Basler’s face as she hugged her mother and father. A line of more than 100 people waited to greet Mayor Jim Fausett and his wife of 60 years, Carol Fausett, to congratulate them on the mayor’s retirement after roughly 50 years with the city.

“It’s amazing to me,” Basler said. “He’s been doing stuff for the city since I was a baby and before I was born. [Coralville] has just always been a part of our life.”

The 82-year-old mayor was honored in a ceremony at the Coralville Center for Performing Arts Tuesday evening. The lobby was packed to the brim with Coralville citizens, young and old, waiting to hug and shake hands with the mayor of 18 years.

“You never really know when it’s time to retire and change, so you just hope that when you do you can leave the place better than what it would’ve been without you,” Fausett said. “I feel I’ve done that.”

As the crowd of people made their way through the line to see the night’s honoree, they were just as thrilled to hug the mayor’s wife. She said she has been by his side through it all.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “We’re going to really, really miss it, but hopefully, we’ll stay involved. He won’t have as much responsibility, and now we’ll have Tuesday nights free.”

Prior to his time as mayor, Fausett put in 18 years on the City Council, as well as time on the Coralville Parks and Recreation Board and different Coralville commissions.

When Jim Fausett moved to the area in 1959, every real-estate agent insisted he look for land to build on in Iowa City, because “Coralville was never going to be anything.”

Since then, the city’s population has grown by approximately 16,000 people, and Fausett has been a part of monumental changes in the city, including creating a bus system and the construction and renovations of the Iowa River Landing.

He said even though some people are against the development, he considers Iowa River Landing is biggest accomplishment as mayor.

“You have to have a thick skin,” he said. “You cannot take it personally, and I don’t, because everyone has their own right to what they believe. I have a hard time understanding why they were so opposed to what we are doing, because I think it is all good. I look at that, though, and understand that it really is the minority that is complaining.”

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth, who has been in the city for 25 years, pointed out that Fausett was a part of the City Council that hired him. Hayworth marveled at the number of contributions Fausett has made to Coralville, including flood recovery in 2008.

“He would do almost anything to help someone in need,” Hayworth said. “He’s really made a huge difference in Coralville, and there are a lot of things he’s done to help our community.”

John Lundell will take over as mayor. Fausett said he would not have felt secure retiring had Lundell not agreed to run.

Lundell said, he has “big shoes” to fill.

“[The feeling] is hard to describe,” he said. “It is such an honor, and it is still a little bit unbelievable to me to be filling his big shoes. Just the thought of having a name other than Mayor Fausett is strange, and it seems even stranger that the new name is mine.”


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