The City of Ocala honored and thanked council man Matthew Wardell during his final meeting with the Ocala City Council.
Wardell, whose District 4 seat will be up for grabs along with three others during next month’s election, recognized city staff, residents, and colleagues while highlighting some of the city’s accomplishments during the council’s meeting on Tuesday, August 17.
“I just want to thank all of you guys up here, men and women, for allowing me the opportunity to serve and be part of this council. I want to thank the residents of Ocala, for voting for me and supporting us as a council over the last six years,” said Wardell. He made reference to a collection of ongoing and completed projects and changes that he, city council, and staff have worked on over the past six years.
Wardell made special note of the form based code changes that have impacted the development and growth of downtown Ocala.
“Form-based code downtown, that’s a big deal for the development of downtown. That getting through is really changing the way we redevelop downtown. We’re seeing the fruits of that labor now with all the housing coming in and all the new businesses, and it’s really exciting to see,” said Wardell.
In addition to the code changes, Wardell cited the construction of three fire stations, two police substations, the Ocala Wetland Recharge Park, and the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place as a few examples of accomplishments of which he was proud to be a part.
“I’m really proud of us for supporting and getting those things done for our residents. Those are things that people are going to enjoy for decades. It’s exciting to see all the good work that’s going on,” said Wardell.
He took time to recognize city staff and leaders who had grown their careers and blossomed while working for the city.
“It’s been a real pleasure to see leaders throughout our staff grow and see their careers kind of flourish at the city,” said Wardell, citing multiple city employees, including John King, Tammi Haslem, and Pete Lee, who was promoted recently to Assistant City Manager.
“It’s much appreciated, the work you do. Often times it’s easy to say, it’s just somebody that works for the government, it’s not a real person. You’re all real people, you all work really hard for the people that live in this city and it’s much appreciated,” said Wardell, before concluding his remarks by thanking his colleagues.
Wardell’s replacement will be selected during the upcoming Ocala City Council election on September 21. Although the general election will include the District 1, 3, and 5 seats as well as the Mayor’s office, a special election will be held to finish out Wardell’s District 4 term.
The Ocala City Council next meets on Tuesday, September 14 at 5 p.m. at Ocala City Hall, which is located at 110 SE Watula Avenue.