Motley Mayor Al Yoder consulted City Council Member Amy Hutchison, in 2014, when he was considering a run at an open seat on the Council.
As fate would have it, eight years later, both resigned from their positions in city government on the same night. The Council accepted the resignations at Monday’s meeting.
The decision was bittersweet for both. Yoder and his wife, Hope, are moving to a new home outside of city limits, making him no longer eligible to hold a seat. Hutchison has accepted a new job as general manager at Manion Truss and Components in Superior, Wisconsin.
“I would like to add to that by saying that it’s been more than an honor to work with all of you guys — employees, the Council,” Yoder said, during the meeting. “It was very rewarding and fun. Somebody mentioned when I came in, ‘Are you glad this is your last meeting?’ Well, I’m not. I enjoyed it. But it is what it is.”
“I’m going to miss all of it,” Hutchison said. “We have such a great camaraderie with the Council. We’re all such different people and we all bring different perspectives that really make a lot of progress for the city. We each have our little passions and things that we stand for. Together we’re just a good mix and we make great things happen.”
Yoder’s resignation is effective, July 1, and Hutchison’s is effective, Aug. 1. It was the last Council meeting for both, however, as Hutchison is unable to attend the July meeting. The city will accept letters of interest from residents who wish to fill the open mayor and council seat for the remainder of the year. Both positions are up for election in November.
Until a new mayor is selected, Council Member Pat O’Regan will serve as acting mayor.
For Hutchison, her resignation brought to an end more than a decade of public service. Having previously served on the Planning and Zoning Board, in February 2012, she put in a letter of intent to fill a vacancy on the City Council. She won re-election later that year and has retained her seat ever since.
“Being a part of the town and a resident, I’ve always wanted to make a difference and be part of change,” she said.
Yoder developed a taste for local government while helping out with a couple of county sheriff campaigns during previous election cycles. He said he did a lot of knocking on doors in those days, and the more he did it, the more he liked it.
He recalled, in 2014, he knocked on Hutchison’s door to ask if she was running again, as she was just finishing her first full two-year term.
“I said, ‘Your term’s up this year. Are you running again?’” Yoder said. “She goes, ‘Yes, I am.’ I said, ‘You answered my question.’ She looked at me funny and I’m like, ‘I wanted to know if you enjoyed it. If you’re going to run again, then I have faith that I’d probably enjoy it, too.’ She said, ‘Yeah, I definitely enjoy it.’ So, I put my name in the hat.”
Since that time, the pair has helped steer Motley into clearer waters in a number of different areas. One of those is, actually, clearer water. Both joined the Council at a time when the city was working on a new water treatment plant. They helped get that finished, which has improved the quality of the city’s drinking water.
After winning a seat on the Council in 2014, Yoder became mayor in June 2016 after the resignation of Nancy Nieken. He was elected to that position for the first time the following November.
Both said there were a lot of challenges when they first joined the city government. Hutchison said there had been a lot of turnover on the city staff when she took her seat. That has stabilized, for the most part, and she said she has had the opportunity to work with some “great people,” including those who are currently employed by the city.
“When you have a working council that works well together and employees that work well together, things go smooth,” Yoder said. “You can pretty much accomplish anything. I’m proud of the employees we have.”
Yoder said when he first ran for his seat on the Council, there was “a lot of turmoil.” In fact, he said he had people tell him that they enjoyed reading the paper when there were stories about Motley, because it was always full of drama.
As such, one of the first things he did when he became mayor was begin recording live video at all of the city council meetings and posting them online. He said that eliminated some of the “he said, she said” that went on, as everyone knew they were being watched.
He has also done his part to bring a level of decorum to the position which, he said, previously wasn’t there. He wears a sport coat to every meeting, and likes to conduct meetings in a quick, efficient manner. The Council has responded to that, he said, which helps keep everything under control.
Hutchison said she’s proud of the improvements she has seen during her time on the Council.
“We’ve done a lot of things for the community,” she said. “Converse Park, we’ve done great things there; the water treatment plant. My personal favorite is seeing the hockey rink and the Christmas lights at Christmas time. Just overall, I think we’ve done a lot of good things.”
“It’s been a really rewarding job,” Yoder said. “It’s almost tearjerking for me. I would have rather just finished my term. It would have been nice if I could just finish and let somebody else go in. I don’t want to leave on these terms, but it is what it is.”
Knowing that he and his wife were planning to “move on with (their) dream,” Yoder wasn’t going to run for re-election in 2020. City employees talked him into it, assuring him that he could resign when it came time to move.
With pricing where it is, he said he would have waited another year to build the home so he could finish out his term. However, his wife is a cancer survivor. As such, they felt it was time to move on to the next adventure in their lives.
A resignation wasn’t necessarily in the cards for Hutchison, either.
She has worked for Manion Lumber and Truss in Pillager for 22 years, where she is currently the assistant manager and controller. When the general manager position opened up at the company’s facility in Superior, Wisconsin, she knew she had to apply.
“I will be up there during the week,” she said. “My family is still going to be here. Of course, my kids are off to college. We’ll be kind of doing the separation, but we’ll be traveling back and forth. Motley’s still my home, and it always will be.”
As much as both Yoder and Hutchison appreciate their fellow Council members and the city’s employees, both were particularly grateful to the residents of Motley. Over and over again, through several re-election campaigns each, the voters have continued to show their faith in both of them.
Hutchison said that has meant a lot to her. When she first joined the Council, she wanted to bring a younger, more family-oriented approach to the proceedings. She comes from “humble beginnings,” growing up on a farm with two hard-working parents.
She said that has helped guide her approach to decision-making over the past decade.
“I’m a frugal person and I care about finances,” Hutchison said. “I want to make changes, but yet, changes that are realistic and affordable because we are a small community and we all live on budgets. That was very important to me.”
Yoder said he has made it a point of emphasis to be a man of action during his tenure as mayor. It means a lot to him that the residents of Motley were willing to put their trust in him, so he has always done his best to follow through whenever he said he’s going to work on a particular issue or concern.
Over the years, he said he has always tried to put himself in the shoes of his constituents, thinking from the perspective of what he would think if he were not in a position of leadership
Overall, he said he was honored to serve the city of Motley. Though he looks forward to settling into his retirement home, he will miss the job. If he were not moving out of the city limits — his new home is just outside of town — he would not be stepping away. In fact, he said he “probably would run until I die.”
That passion is something that has been there since the beginning. He said when he first ran for Council, he went from door to door introducing himself, along with hitting every business in town. On those stops, he asked every resident what they would like to see changed in the city.
“Whatever they told me, that’s what I wrote down,” Yoder said. “I have that whole list. I tried going down that list. I’d look at that list every now and then just to make sure that I was still focused on what the people wanted me to be focused on.”