It was a who's who of Lower Valley politicians and friends of Sunnyside Mayor Ed Prilucik at an open house held last night to see the mayor off.
After 17 years on the city council, with the last nine as mayor, Prilucik was defeated last month by Tom Gehlen.
The send off was held at the Sunnyside Community Center and it was filled with old newspaper clippings of the mayor performing ribbon cuttings, dedicating new wings at the hospital and several achievement awards during his time as mayor.
"It's been great working with him," Sunnyside City Manager Mark Kunkler said. "He's one of the most knowledgeable individuals I know."
Kunkler described Prilucik as even handed, who managed the council meetings well.
"He's just been great to work for," Kunkler added.
Councilwoman Theresa Hancock agreed. Hancock said she went to high school with the Prilucik in Sunnyside and both of their mothers went to high school together in Idaho.
"I've always known what a fine, quality person he is," she said. "He's always had a leadership quality about him. Sunnyside has been lucky to have him as their mayor."
Prilucik's parents were among those gathered.
"He enjoyed being on the council but it was time," his mother said. "He needs a rest."
Prilucik said he never thought about politics until 1989, when the city of Sunnyside was looking at a storm water utility. In his opinion, the project was being over designed.
"That got my fire going," he recalled.
It was then he started going to council meetings. He soon ran for a seat but was defeated. A short time later he was appointed to the civil service commission and not long after that, Councilman Jim Honeyford moved outside city limits and had to give up his seat on the council. Prilucik was appointed in 1990 to replace Honeyford.
Some of his proudest moments in his 17 years in Sunnyside city government was the cooperation Sunnyside had with other entities. He remembered a trip the Sunnyside City Council, the Grandview City Council and Yakima County officials took to Washington D.C. to lobby for funding for Sunnyside and the surrounding communities. Not long after the trip, Congressman Doc Hastings announced a grant for Sunnyside to extend its water and sewer lines from the mall to the airport.
"If we hadn't have been working together, it would have never happened," Prilucik said.
He also recalled when he was a council member, he worked with then Mayor Don Hughes with the Yakama Nation to secure water rights for Sunnyside.
Prilucik plans to take a few nights off when he term expires Jan. 14. There are some other projects he's looking into and hasn't ruled out returning to the political stage.
The mayor was presented a plaque by the city council at last night's meeting as well.
Sunnyside Mayor Pro-tem Jim Restucci said it was awesome working with Prilucik.
"I can't say enough good things about him," Restucci claimed. "He helped me out a lot when I came on the council. He helped me learn the ropes."