MT. PLEASANT — Although Gary See never had any political ambitions or was interested in holding public office, this December he will retire following a 24-year run as a member of the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
“I thought, ‘This sounds interesting. I’ll see where it goes,’” he said of when he first started out.
When he started in the position, he didn’t even know if a person who lived within city limits could serve on the board.
“Back then it was all farmers, consistently,” See said.
With more than two decades of experience on the job, the supervisor has learned more about how a county functions and the services a county provides to its residents than he ever thought he would need to.
“It’s really diverse, the subject,” he said.
Being part of the various regional committees and providing needed services to county residents is what See is most proud of.
“The change in the role of the supervisors has been tremendous from then until now. It was pretty much taxes and county roads when I started,” See said.
Now the supervisors sit on boards including Southeast Iowa Link, which provides mental health services, as well as Great River Housing Trust, which focuses on the economic and housing development of the area.
“It’s really a diverse array of subjects and committees I got to sit on,” he said.
See added he has felt the job has been most gratifying when the board has been able to meet the needs of the county while sticking to a budget.
“It’s gratifying to get through a budget year without having to raise a levy and still take care of all the requests that are on the table. It happens every now and then,” he said.
Among the projects See has been a part of, the board member said one of the proudest that he took part in was the building of the new county jail.
“We spent a lot of time on it. I’m glad that worked out to the satisfaction and benefit of the citizens of Henry County. It was a good product and should last a long time,” he said.
As a longtime supervisor, See said one of the most valuable lessons he learned was working together and alongside other people, especially his fellow board members.
“You do work as a three … that’s fine, you say ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that,’ but if you can’t sell the other two, you’re not going anywhere. You do have to formulate your ideas in a manner that is palatable to your two peers,” he said.
Current board members Marc Lindeen and Greg Moeller said See has been “exceptional in his service to the citizens back to the county.”
“His understanding of all the needs of the county was exceptional,” Moeller said.
“He’s done great for the county. He’s extremely thoughtful in his processes,” Lindeen, who has served 22 years alongside See, added.
Moving forward, See said he’ll miss “the responsibility and serving the citizens,” but is looking forward to taking on new activities.
“With COVID, it’s a little hard, but I do have a list of volunteering and other activities I’m interested in doing,” he said.