It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone you’ve worked closely with for a long time, but that’s what the Wright County Board of Commissioners faced at its Dec.29 board meeting. It was the final meeting for Commissioners Charlie Borrell and Mike Potter and the board and several county staff were on hand to thank them for their eight years of service to county residents.
Borrell chose not to run for re-election this year and will be remembered for his quick wit, sense of humor and attempts to keep government out of the lives of rural county residents as much as possible. Commissioner Darek Vetsch summed up the feelings of the board in thanking Borrell for being the champion of those who didn’t feel their voices were being heard by government. Borrell heard them and worked on their behalf.
“You embody what it means to be an elected official,” Vetsch said. “Your citizen advocacy is enormous. You’ve done such amazing things for the people of Wright County and the people of your district. I love the fact that you don’t shy away from the hard decisions. You move straight forward on getting things done, whether it may be popular or not. For that, I will miss you and wish I had more than four years with you. It wasn’t long enough.”
All of the other commissioners paid their tributes to Borrell, who said the best part of his job was the camaraderie that was formed between the commissioners over the years – four of the five commissioners joined the board at the same time in 2013 – and that bond will remain with all of them.
“The best thing about being on this board is that I consider all of the other commissioners to be friends,” Borrell said. “We come from different backgrounds, but the one thing that all of share is the drive to help out the little guy who doesn’t always have someone in their corner fighting for them. For that, I’m very appreciative and I know I’ll be friends with the other commissioners long after I’m off the county board.”
Potter lost his re-election bid in November, but was thanked by staff and his fellow commissioners for the tireless work he did on behalf of the county to get transportation projects to come to Wright County – most notably the expansion of I-94 between Albertville and Clearwater.
County Administrator Lee Kelly said that many of the road projects that have been done in the county in recent years are thanks in large part to Potter’s efforts.
“Eight years has flown by,” Kelly said. “You always brought an interesting perspective to things and I thought that was great. I certainly have appreciated your efforts flying all over basically being a lobbyist for Wright County for different things, specifically in transportation. Every time I drive I-94, I’ll think of you in some way.”
Potter said he is fine with not being on the county board moving forward and that he has enjoyed the strong working relationships that developed between the commissioners.
“It’s been fun,” Potter said. “I’ve accomplished every goal I set for myself when I came on this board. It’s bittersweet because there is more I would have liked to have done, but I want to thank the members of this board. We got close over the years and I thought we worked well together for the residents of our county. I think we all shared the belief that we didn’t just represent the district that voted us in, we represented everyone in the county.”
At the Jan. 5, 2021, new Commissioners Mike Kaczmarek and Mary Wetter will be sworn in to replace Borrell and Potter, respectively. Later, Potter and Borrell will reflect on their eight years as commissioners and what the job has meant to them.