BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Longtime city council member Tim Pauken is stepping away from public office when his term expires at the end of this year.
The current president of Maumee City Council said that personal reasons led to his decision not to seek a fifth term in office this November.
“My goal was to get 20 years in, but that didn’t work out,” Pauken said. “I have to refocus my attention on my family and some personal health issues that we are facing.”
In addition to Pauken, other council members with expiring seats this year include Brent Buehrer, Tracey Elmore and Tom Wagener.
Pauken entered politics in 2005, when he was first elected to Maumee City Council. In 2011, he made an unsuccessful bid for mayor by challenging then-incumbent Mayor Tim Wagener. Pauken did not have to vacate his council seat to run for that position, so he remained on council. In 2014, an issue regarding his retirement benefits with the school district resulted in his temporary resignation from council although he was later reappointed to his seat. He was re-elected in 2015 during a special election and also in 2017, for the term he is currently serving. He became council president in 2018 and was re-elected to the position in 2020.
Between responding to e-mails and taking part in multiple committee meetings, open forums and staff meetings, he said that serving on council takes a tremendous amount of time.
“There is a lot that goes into it,” he said. “I never took this job for the money. I was doing it for the city and what was in the best interest. I felt I needed to be a part of that to make sure that our issues were being taken care of.”
Highlights during his career on council include implementing a balanced budget, a new city website, a new employee handbook and a new water contract with the city of Toledo. He was part of the council that oversaw the construction of a new fire station, service building and fire and training center as well as the implementation of new water meters. In staffing, he was part of a council that created an in-house law director position, implemented school resource officers and hired a new city administrator.
He has helped to oversee several economic development projects, including The Shops at Fallen Timbers, Side Cut Crossings and more recently, the uptown Maumee redevelopment project and safety upgrades to the Anthony Wayne Trail, which will serve Maumee well into the future.
“I am thankful for the 16 years I have served on city council. I hope that those people who elected me believe that I have served honorably in their eyes,” he said.
Pauken’s formative years were spent watching his father and older brother pursuing service in the public sector. His father, Joseph Pauken, served on Maumee City Council for 11 years from 1970 through 1981. He resigned from office to pursue a job in Florida.
His brother, Steve Pauken, served on Maumee City Council for nine years – including three years as council president – from 1984 through 1993. He was also elected mayor, serving in that position from 1993 to 1999, when he resigned to pursue a job in Berthoud, Colo.
At the end of his term, Pauken will have served 16 years, making him the longest-serving politician in the Pauken family.
“It was in our blood – I grew up with it,” he said.
In addition to his time on city council, Pauken also spent 30 years working for Maumee City Schools in building maintenance.
“Working for the schools for 30 years is probably how I got elected so easily,” Pauken said. “I knew a lot of parents and kids, and they felt comfortable putting me on council because they thought that they would have a voice there, and they pretty much did.”
Both Joe and Steve were die-hard Democrats, which made Tim’s decision to switch to the Republican Party rather awkward, he said.
“I was afraid to tell my dad when I became a Republican. I thought for sure he would come unglued, but he didn’t say anything. My brother didn’t say anything, either, but a few of his Democratic friends did,” he said. “I made the switch based on my ideals. I have always leaned more Republican than Democrat, but when you come from a family that is all Democrat, that’s what you are until you decide you are not.”
Pauken advises anyone seeking public office to remember that they are merely one out of seven votes, and things do not go their way every time.
“You go in there with the intent to help the community and I just hope that the people that are running are doing it for the same reasons that I did. After 16 years, I feel confident to say that we left the place better than we found it. There are still issues that need to be taken care of. We are not perfect. We will always have situations that pop up,” he said.
Pauken has not ruled out the possibility that he might return to public service at some point in some capacity.
“I left it open-ended on purpose,” he said. “I need to step back and take a break. I do not know what the future holds – I may decide to come back two or four years from now, or I might decide not to come back at all, but I am not giving up on my city.