In farewell speech, Poway deputy mayor praises city officials
Outgoing Poway City Councilman and Deputy Mayor Barry Leonard on Tuesday evening bid farewell to his government colleagues and said the city "will continue to be the envy of most cities and towns," at least in Southern California.
A council member representing District 2 since 2015, Leonard announced at the May 2 meeting that he was resigning for personal reasons.
"The things I learned about city government, I'll always take with me," Leonard said Tuesday.
Leonard said it has been "just really been great" to serve on the council and that "there's a whole bunch of people doing a whole bunch of good stuff."
After he spoke, Leonard received a round of applause from those attending the meeting.
Leonard praised his council peers and various department officials for their efforts in making Poway, a city of just under 50,000, a safe and well-maintained place to live.
Those visiting Poway for its Independence Day fireworks shows or Christmas holiday events think, "`Wow, this is really cool,"' Leonard said. "Maybe it's old-fashioned, but I like it."
Leonard said he moved to Poway with his family 20 years ago because of its quality schools.
Although originally skeptical about the political process, Leonard said he began volunteering with a community group in the Green Valley neighborhood. Later, he moved on a city budget review group.
"My eyes were opened wide," Leonard added.
Leonard took a few minutes to call out the "chronically malcontent people" on social media who criticize city government.
"Most of the assumptions you make are wrong," Leonard said, adding that critics should actually learn what the City Council does rather than distorting the truth.
"It shouldn't be all about them — it should be all about us," Leonard said, adding that Poway city leaders will "continue to do the right thing for the right reason."
According to a recent Poway News Chieftain article, Leonard said Tuesday would be his last meeting.
"I'd just like to say that recent changes in my life have reminded me that nothing is permanent," Leonard said on May 2. "Because of some recent changes in my life I'm going to submit my resignation to the council."
He also thanked the people of Poway "for trusting him as their council member," the Chieftain reported.
In an emotional speech Tuesday, Mayor Steve Vaus described Leonard as his "wing man."
Vaus said that while others in society may have smashed their moral compass, Leonard has not. "His priorities are God, family and community," the mayor said.
"We're all gonna miss you," Vaus told Leonard, "but you can bet your ass I'm gonna send you screen shots of Poway weather when you're in Boston."
Vaus also read a message from former Poway City Councilman John Mullin, who described Leonard as "the kind of person we should all strive to be," whose dedication to the city "is exactly what you would want from an elected leader."
Councilwoman Caylin Frank was also emotional in her tribute to Leonard. "You have been such an ally and a mentor," she told him. "This was not an easy decision for you, but your priorities are where they should be. I'm so grateful that I got to work with you for the time that I did."
Frank also credited Leonard for not being afraid to speak his mind. "Your core and your character, that's hard to find," she added.
Councilman Brian Pepin, who was elected last year, said he regretted not having more time to spend with Leonard.
Councilman Peter De Hoff, also in his first term, said Leonard appointed him to the city budget review committee.
De Hoff said he's observed Leonard's interaction with residents in various forums, and "he's always trying to convey to the public these strange and arcane ways city governments work."
"I'm hoping we can carry a bit of Barry's persona going into the future," De Hoff added.
Leonard and his family moved to Poway from Boston after he sold Advanced Networks Corp. Leonard co-founded the technology company in 1984.
According to the Chieftain article, city officials said they were unaware of Leonard's plans to resign until the May 2 meeting. The process to find a new council member will likely be on the June 6 meeting agenda, a Poway city spokeswoman said.
During a public comment period Tuesday, several residents said an election was needed to fill the District 2 seat, while others thanked Leonard for his service.
"Lets have an appropriate election, whatever it costs," said one man, who also referenced the August special election to replace former county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.