City Municipal Administrator steps down after 33 years with city

After 33 years working for the city of Bowling Green, Municipal Administrator John Fawcett is preparing to step back.

He announced his retirement at City Council’s March 2 meeting.

“We’ll all be very happy for you on a personal level, because Lord knows you’ve dedicated many years of service to the city, and the city has benefitted in many different ways,” Council President Michael Aspacher said after Fawcett’s announcement.

Fawcett didn’t originally plan on a life and a career in Bowling Green. When he arrived here, he thought he’d go back to a previous military post in Colorado after a few years.

“What I found, however, was Bowling Green provided an environment that was outstanding for raising a family. The people are friendly, they’re open, they made me feel welcome. And so that expectation of being here for two years has turned into 35 years,” Fawcett said. “That’s the hold that I think a lot of people experience when they come to BG.”

In his time as personnel director, assistant municipal administrator and municipal administrator, Fawcett has seen the city undergo changes that have likely increased that hold.

The renovation of the downtown was the most significant of those changes, Fawcett said.

“It was a major improvement, I think, from all standpoints, from what we used to have,” Fawcett said. “There’s a sizable change in our community compared to what it was 18 years ago.”

Fawcett has been the municipal administrator for 18 years, after two and a half years as the assistant municipal administrator and 12 years as the personnel director.

While he’s seen mayors and other city employees come and go during that time, the “organizational setting” has remained the same.

“You’ve got a sense of a working relationship that’s very positive among the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branches of government,” Fawcett said. “That’s not something that you see often in other communities.”

Mayors have always appointed people to boards and commissions based on merit, Fawcett said, and never on their political party or who they know.

It was the same with the appointment of Fawcett’s replacement, current assistant municipal administrator Lori Tretter.

Over the past 18 years, Tretter has learned the duties of the municipal administrator and taken on more responsibilities, including making decisions about the city budget.

“She’s done outstanding in every task that has ever been assigned to her,” Fawcett said. “She has every skill necessary to be a successful city administrator. So when the mayor identified her as my replacement I was extremely pleased.”

Tretter credits Fawcett with training her to complete the tasks of her next job.

“John’s been truly a great mentor to me,” Tretter said.

Tretter will take over on July 1. After that, Fawcett plans to spend more time with his grandchildren and spend more time on his hobby of cycling.

“I carry two phones, and I’ll be thrilled to be able to lay one aside and say, ‘Okay, that’s the city’s, I no longer have to worry about answering that phone.’ And then on the existing phone it’ll be nice not having a calendar that I have to live by. I’ve had a very structured life.”

Though he’ll lay aside the city phone, Fawcett will stay involved. He will continue his Kiwanis membership, and would be open to serving on a board or commission.

“I’ll be a citizen who will enjoy this community,” Fawcett said. “I’ll be a citizen who might be actively expressing my opinions to the mayor or my elected officials, but I’m definitely not going to be one that will try to manage the city from my family room.”