For many, Jim Fausett wasn't just the mayor of Coralville but a staunch advocate for the community and a humble leader.
Coralville community members and area officials celebrated Fausett’s long-time service to the city at a reception Tuesday evening. Fausett gave remarks to a crowded auditorium, named after the 82-year-old, at the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts.
Fausett announced earlier this fall that he wouldn't seek re-election after serving the city for nearly 50 years. He was mayor for the past 18 years, a council member 18 years before that and served on city committees well before that. He admitted when he and his wife, Carol, first moved to Coralville in 1959 he didn’t think they’d stay for this long. But the two never found the desire to leave.
“It’s got to be the people,” Fausett told The Gazette of the reason he’s stayed so long. “Coralville has the best people in the world. They really are.”
City Administrator Kelly Hayworth, who was hired by Fausett 25 years ago, said the mayor has always kept the citizens of Coralville in mind for any issue the council has addressed.
"He has pride for his community all the way two his heart," Hayworth said.
Fausett and the Coralville community have experienced a lot of change throughout the past few decades. Throughout Fausett’s tenure the population has grown from 7,700 residents in 1980, a few years after Fausett joined the council, to 19,700 in 2012.
During his tenure he’s worked through flood recovery following the Floods of 2008, he’s seen the construction of the Coral Ridge Mall and the development of the Iowa River Landing among other developments. Fausett acknowledged the Iowa River Landing’s development and the controversy it brought as some questioned the city’s use of Tax Increment Financing – but he said he considers it an accomplishment and a development that benefits the city.
At the ceremony, Fausett was given a key to the city and a proclamation recognizing Dec. 17, 2013 as Jim Fausett day. Behind him, a slideshow displayed the moments from Fausett's service from shaking hands with former President George W. Bush following the Floods of 2008 to standing outside a bus during his early efforts to help establish the city's public transportation system in the 1960s.
Although Fausett is finished serving the city as mayor he’s quick to note he’s not about to disappear.
“I’ve asked Kelly to put me on committees ... so I can continue to feel like I’m an important part of the city,” Fausett said. “I want to be able to continue to help make things better.”
Council Member and Mayor-elect John Lundell was sworn in as Coralville’s new mayor later that evening at a special city council meeting. His official term as mayor will begin on January 1, 2014.
Lundell said he's got large shoes to fill but his honored to be Fausett's successor.“This whole entire community has been shaped by Jim,” he said.