It was the end of an era.

After 31 years with the city of Monroe, City Administrator Gene Brazel drafted his final council agenda, closing out the regular business meeting of the Monroe City Council with his trademark calm and grace. The final meeting of 2016 took place Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Monroe City Hall, and was attended by numerous friends and members of Brazel’s family. A Special Orders of the Day presentation was added to the agenda to recognize Brazel for his long-time service to the Monroe community, for which he was gifted a ceremonial key to the city. 

Brazel’s last draft agenda took place in front of Mayor Geoffrey Thomas, city staff, a full council and packed council chambers.

“This is it, team,” Brazel said.

Brazel accepted a new position with the city of Lake Stevens in November. His last day in Monroe will be Tuesday, Jan. 3.  

Thomas presented Brazel with the key, thanking him for his steadfast service to Monroe. Brazel was first hired as a seasonal employee at the city’s wastewater treatment plant in 1985. He was just 15 years old at the time, and still a student at Monroe High School. The job stuck and he worked his way up over the years, becoming the city administrator in 2010.

Brazel’s done extraordinarily well during his time with the city, Thomas said. In fact, he’s performed his job so aptly that another city picked him up. Thomas thanked Brazel for his professionalism, listening ear and enduring counsel during his three years as mayor.

“Congratulations on your new job,” Thomas said. “I’m going to miss you. It’s been a great time working with you.”

Each councilmember took a few moments to address Brazel, thanking him for his invaluable help during their time on the council. Councilmember Kevin Hanford recalled his initial reaction when Brazel emailed to inform them he was interviewing for the Lake Stevens position, which was, “don’t even think about it, you’re not allowed to go.”

“In all seriousness, you will be missed,” Hanford said. “It’s been a true pleasure.”

Councilmember Patsy Cudaback expressed heartfelt gratitude. Cudaback has been on the council for seven years, and was there when Brazel first transitioned into the role of city administrator. He helped her through some tumultuous years, she said.

“You were a rock,” Cudaback said. “I think what I admire most about you is your ability to get along with people.”

Additionally, she said she admired his unflappable calm, courage under fire and kindness to everyone. Brazel at the helm had an extremely positive effect on the city, she said, as his leadership set a tone. She said she has heard repeatedly that the city is a great place to work.

“I heard that from many people, so I really appreciated that,” Cudaback said.

City attorney Zach Lell said Brazel was instrumental in bringing him to the city of Monroe, for which he is grateful. For the last six years, Lell has worked with Brazel on a daily basis, he said, and it’s an interaction he’s going to miss. As far as effective public managers go, Lell said there are two key traits that stand out in his mind: common sense and integrity. 

“Gene, you embody both of those traits,” Lell said. “You’ve been an absolute pleasure to work with. I’m very proud to call you a friend, and I’m going to miss you very much. Best of luck and congratulations.”

Brazel introduced his family and said a few words to the council and city staff, thanking them for their support over the years. Brazel always thought he would retire in Monroe, but the position in Lake Stevens offers growth, new challenges and the opportunity to impact another community the way he’s impacted Monroe.

Over the years, Brazel has left his mark on the Monroe community in a multitude of ways. From building the entrance at city hall to planning and developing Sky River Park to designing the original artwork that rests in front of the Donnetta Walser Building on Village Way — Brazel has influenced what Monroe is today. It’s been an absolute honor, he said.   

He knows the who-what-where-when-why of Monroe better than most, stemming from his long-term service to the city and the fact that he’s lived in Monroe since he was in elementary school.

“The family knows that I’m all about fun facts, so when we drive around town I share my fun facts about what I’ve touched and been a part of,” Brazel said. “It’s just been amazing, and you guys have been my family, and will be for years to come. That’s not going to change.”