Fairfield Mayor: Departing City Council members will be missed

Fairfield City Council will welcome two new members in January, one who has never served on the board and one with a familiar face.

But before newcomer Dale Paullus and former council member Terry Senger join the board, Mayor Steve Miller sent off two exiting council members with special days of their own and a plaque of appreciation.

“This is that time every other year where we have to say goodbye to council members because of term limits,” said Miller, who sat in the audience to allow Vice Mayor Debbie Pennington to run the meeting during her last meeting.

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“It can be good because we get new people, but it could be bad because we lose institutional knowledge. Tonight is that time we have to say good-bye to two very good people.”

Pennington served the city for 15 years, the last eight representing the Third Ward on City Council. The mayor called Pennington, who was ineligible to seek a third consecutive term due to term limits, “a true public servant.”

She also served the city as a member of the Charter Review Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Fairfield Women and Fairfield Historical Society. She also served as president of the Hamilton-Fairfield-Oxford Board of Realtors and the Butler-Warren Association of Realtors.

Miller proclaimed Tuesday as Councilmember Debbie Pennington Day in the city “for her many years of selfless service to the city of Fairfield.”

“You’ve been a great help as vice mayor,” Miller said, noting she stepped in for the mayor when he was unable to attend events and council meetings.

Pennington said she’ll miss being a member of the council, but “I’m going to miss, most of all, the people. The Lord knows I love to be around people …. My hopes and dreams are that I leave my place on council a little better than when I came.”

Wednesday was proclaimed Councilmember Craig Keller Day in the city of Fairfield for his years of service to the city.

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“It’s been an honor to get to know you and to serve with you,” Miller said. “You’re a good guy, you’ve done a good job and you’ve done things for the right reasons.”

Keller, Council’s Second Ward representative, was eligible to run for a second term having been elected in 2015 but stepped down to spend more time with family.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “As much as I really enjoyed serving on council, time away from the grandkids — a lot of time the kids and grandkids have events — that coincides with council events.”

Keller, who served as vice mayor in 2018, was actively involved in the city for the past six years, including as a member of the Parks & Recreation Committee before his term on council.

Keller has worked for Butler County for 30 years, the last 16 as a bailiff for Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater.

Keller has also been a member and president of the Fairfield Historical Society, president of the Hamilton Civil War Roundtable, and vice president of the Butler County Historical Society.

“It’s a great community and I certainly feel it’s an honor to be able to serve here,” he said.

Paullus and Senger will be sworn into office on Dec. 30.

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