Nostalgia and accolades filled Johns Creek City Council chambers Monday as the city’s founding mayor and three outgoing city council members said goodbye.
Presiding over his last City Council meeting before leaving office, Mayor Mike Bodker handed his gavel to mayor-elect John Bradberry and said a few words to newly elected council members in the audience.
“I look forward to your incredible leadership in the future and taking this baby that I started … and letting it grow up further,” Bodker said. “… I look forward to not sitting where you’re sitting because I don’t plan to come back unless invited.”
Following a formal presentation honoring Bodker and outgoing council members Lenny Zaprowski, Stephanie Endres and Tom Coughlin, the mayor received praise from current and former officials.
“You get your ups and you get your downs all over the newspapers, and everybody knows everybody’s business when you’re a public servant,” said former Councilman Ivan Figueroa. “It is truly public service when you’re doing that. And Mike, I don’t know how you’ve done that for (14) years.”
Bodker was elected Johns Creek mayor in 2006 after running unopposed. He leaves office after serving four terms leading one of the most affluent and diverse cities in north Fulton.
Bodker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that when he leaves office he will focus on a business he’s started with former Georgia state representative Mark Burkhalter. The two are partnering as consultants connecting local businesses with local, state and international governments, he said.
Bodker said they’re not a lobbyist firm and no legislation will be involved in their activities.
The mayor said public service has given him opportunities to help people and he will miss that aspect of serving the most.
“The office is an incredible platform to help other people and I will miss that platform,” he said.
During Monday’s meeting, Linda McCain, Fulton County School Board member for District 5 which represents Johns Creek, said Bodker and Zaprowski “worked tirelessly” and helped the school system to form a close relationship with the police department.
One of Bodker’s final actions was to formally veto the Nov. 15 vote of City Council to dump Johns Creek’ tourism agency. On that date, Council members voted 4-3 in approval to end the city’s relationship with convention and visitors bureau over transparency concerns, and to bring tourism operations in-house.
Longtime resident Tom Corrigan spoke up during Bodker’s farewell meeting to criticize the mayor’s veto. During public comment Corrigan said an investigation of Bodker’s office and its relationship with the Convention and Visitors Bureau is necessary.
Former City Councilman Steve Broadbent commented he was concerned about a commingling of funds if tourism operations were managed by the city and urged officials to leave the agency intact.
Bodker, Endres, Zaprowski and former Councilman Brian Weaver were honored for their service with formal commendations during the meeting.
Near tears, Bodker said that while council members past and present sometimes don’t get along, they all had a common goal.
“Whether we agree or disagreed, they all brought their heart, their passion, their intellect and their matching desire to serve the citizens of Johns Creek and it truly was an honor to serve with them,” Bodker said. “...It’s been truly an honor of a lifetime.”