I envision Ed Cockrell on the University of Texas debate team simply running intellectual circles around his opponents back in the day.
And on the Lee’s Summit City Council, some of his past and present adversaries never stood a chance.
Cockrell is rolling off the Lee’s Summit City Council after 12 years at the dais.
A decade plus of deviant, devilish, determined and dutiful work on behalf of his district and the city as a whole.
Cockrell understood so much about serving that I hope many others, present and future, were taking notes.
He got that, in many ways, each council member in Lee’s Summit is an at-large member, making decisions for the betterment of 90,000-plus, not just 24,000.
He appreciated and navigated the waters of Karen Messerli and Randy Rhoads, deftly acknowledging the strengths of each and how to steer the conversation toward consensus. And he did this during times of two very different mayors and leadership styles.
Cockrell could take a line of questioning, change a handful of minds and plant a few seeds before some could even catch up to him.
Then he could lean back, take his glasses off, smile and watch the vote count. I’d bet more often than not, it went in his favor.
Whether or not Cockrell ever wanted a label of "politician," he got it.
But with that tag, Cockrell maintained his integrity, his thoughtfulness, his civic responsibility and his ability to mix wit, wisdom and a bit of hand-wringing all in the same meeting.
He was fun to watch, no doubt about it.
Over the years, some council members most likely came more prepared to meetings based on Cockrell’s lead.
And his common sense approach to business and city staff made the most sense of all.
Cockrell was never all things to all people. City councilmen never will be.
In our current wheelhouse, we have builders, art-minded individuals and those with knowledge of real estate and banking.
What we lose with term limits – a notion in which the jury is still out on here in Lee’s Summit – is institutional knowledge of past votes, decisions and intents.
Sooner or later, all councilmen come and go, either by city charter or election.
My hope is the three incoming council members took a few notes from Cockrell, Kathy Hofmann and those that came before them.
John Beaudoin is the publisher of the Lee’s Summit Journal. To comment, call 816-282-7001 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.