Smaistrla reflects on city council service

Wiping tears from her eyes, Earlene Smaistrla said she has enjoyed her time serving Yukon as a city council member, and that she might not yet be done.

Smaistrla was honored Tuesday by the Yukon City Council as she attended her final regular meeting as a member of the panel.

She has served on the council for 12 years, including three full terms.

She was originally appointed to the city council to complete a 20-month unexpired term in 2002. She was subsequently re-elected twice.

Yukon’s city charter limits council members to two consecutive terms in office. Smaistrla left the council in 2012, but was re-elected to an at-large seat in 2015.

She lost to Jeffrey Wootton, a school teacher, in April.

Smaistrla said she wishes Wootton luck as he begins his term in office on May 7. He attended Tuesday’s council meeting.

Thursday, the soft-spoken Smaistrla discussed her time on the council.

“I just was very, very honored to be in the position that I was in,” Smaistrla said. “It was a blessing to be with the people on the city council and these employees for the city. I feel like they are family and treat people well. It has been a real pleasure and an honor.”

Yukon City Council member Earline Smaistrla accepts a plaque from Mayor Michael McEachern during Tuesday’s city council meetng. Tuesday was Smaistrla’s final regular meeting after 12 years of service. Photo / Terry Groover

Smaistrla was originally appointed to the city council to complete a term in office. She said she accepted the position after being encouraged by several residents.

She was re-elected twice without opposition before being required to sit out a term.

She then defeated the incumbent in 2015, again after being encouraged to run for the seat.

Smaistrla said she enjoyed helping Yukon move forward.

“Being part of the wonderful things that have come through in the last few years as far as the city getting new businesses,” she said.

She also said helping people was something she enjoyed, whether it was something as simple as getting streets striped or helping to promote the city to draw businesses to the community.

“If people ask things, most of the times they get the help. You can’t do everything everyone wants,” she said.

And the city has grown since she first joined.

Smaistrla said the locations of businesses such as Target and Kohl’s were just empty fields in 2002. Now, they are thriving business enterprises.

“So many things have been created, it is amazing,” Smaistrla said.

The council member said her only goal was to make Yukon a better community.

“I was happy to be part of the group that did the voting. It was nice to be able to say yes,” she said.

One of the toughest times on the council came in 2015 as the city faced serious financial concerns.

“It was tough. I was asked to come back. That’s what I did,” she said. “Again, it was another honor.”

Smaistrla said she is looking forward to what the future holds, and said she expects to continue being involved in the community.

She also plans to spend time with family.

Smaistrla said there are plenty of things to keep her busy. She has a full-time job with Yukon National Bank, plus she teaches private piano lessons.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Michael McEachern praised Smaistrla.

“She is one of our very own and very special people on the council. She has served for over 12 years in capacity of being on the council. Has given her time givingly for many, many years. … I want everyone know how very special Ms. Smaistrla is. Once again giving of her time. It is not always a lot of fun but it is always time in which people give back to their community, and she has done so in more than exemplary way for a number of years,” McEachern said.

Wootton will be sworn into office at the beginning of the May 7 meeting.

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