Lima City Council is going to be a different body without Ray Magnus. Thatís neither a complaint against his leaving nor a criticism of the time Magnus has spent on council.
The 1st Ward councilman has been both a saving grace and a distraction on City Council. Itís not often that one person draws such attention to himself ó for good and bad ó in just one term. Itís rare when one personís absence will be noticed after such a short time in city government.
His critics donít like to admit heís had a positive impact any more than his backers will acknowledge heís also been a disruption at times. But Magnus has had such a presence on Lima City Council.
Magnus has been a constant thorn in the side of the city administration. Though some in city government no doubt will be glad to see him exit, Magnus often has been one of the few councilors trying to keep any kind of watch over the administration, even though much of it was arguably politically motivated.
We saw this most clearly when Magnus was the only member of City Council challenging the administration on a land purchase for a water tower. That ultimately saved $20,000 for a city that again is having to make budget cuts.
Magnus has knocked on doors to tell drug dealers to pack it up, or so he claims. He has been an active volunteer in community organizations.
But too often his ego and his temper got the best of him. His challenges to Lima Mayor David Berger became almost a given, no matter how trivial the issue. He also threatened Lima News Editorial Page Editor Ronald Lederman Jr. for publishing an address Magnus listed in a public document.
Magnus gave his defenders and his detractors plenty of ammunition. In many ways, itís best heís leaving.
Magnus turned in a letter Wednesday to the Allen County Board of Elections to withdraw from the 1st Ward race. That leaves political newcomer Kurt Neeper as the only candidate who will be on the November ballot, although a write-in candidate still could emerge.
The Magnus-Neeper race looked like it would be telling in a field of contested City Council races this November. Would voters choose to keep Magnus, an often outspoken, sometimes brusque representative for the 1st Ward, or would they instead seat Neeper, who brings with him practiced and polished answers? Neeper finished first in a three-way primary, but Magnus said he wasnít able to put his full energy toward the race then.
That continues to be the case, as Magnus is devoting his time toward his terminally ill brother in Kentucky.
Magnus still might keep a presence in Lima politics, particularly this fall as his political ally, former Allen County Sheriff Dan Beck, takes on Berger. Then again, Magnus just might fade quietly as his term ends at the end of the year, focusing instead on his family matters.
Time will tell.