Sometimes it’s little things that can say the most.
Take, for instance, the fact that outgoing four-term Mayor Dave Sakrison, who has served the city for nearly three decades in one public-servant capacity or another, is known and called by everyone, simply, as “Mayor Dave.”
“I adore the man,” said Bega Metzner, giving voice to the sentiment that causes people to use such an informal greeting, rather than the more official-sounding “Mayor Sakrison.”
Metzner, who has made Moab her home “off and on” since 1991 and currently heads the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, was one of dozens who shared such sentiment for Sakrison at an open house on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Outgoing City Council members Kyle Bailey and Heila Ershadi were also honored during the event.
For an hour and a half, close friends and distant admirers alike thronged the corridors of Moab City Center with memories, fondness and much good will as they thanked Sakirison and wished him well.
“Dave has been nothing but supportive,” Metzner said. “He’s just a wonderful heart and a wonderful person.”
As guests mingled, a video of Sakrison offering recollections, and of other people expressing heartfelt sentiments toward him, played on a screen in the background, among trinkets placed throughout the building representing highlights of the mayor’s tenure.
The video was titled, “Mayor Dave: A Champion for Moab.”
“He’s been a great community advocate,” said resident Susan Baffico. “He truly cares about people … He’s been good for the city.”
Being an advocate was important for Sakrison. “People need to be heard,” Sakrison is heard saying in the video. He said that meant both listening to local residents when they had concerns or differences with him or simply wanted more information, as well as being a voice for the people of Moab to be heard “upstate” at the capitol.
Sakrison shepherded the city through a time of great change and growth, something City Council Chair Tawny Knuteson-Boyd may have been referring to when, in the video, she spoke of Sakrison’s humor and grace, “which have seen the city through the good, the bad and the ugly. He does his best every day to see the best in every person in every situation.”
Later, at the beginning of a meeting of the city council, Knuteson-Boyd said, “You have given so much to our community over the years … we will do our best to carry on your legacy.”
One of those who moved into Moab in its recent years of growth is Shik Han, who could scarcely have been more sincere when he approached Sakrison: “Ten years ago, when I moved here, your influence in the community made it good for me as a ‘transplant.’”
Han attributed to Sakrison some of Moab’s “equal, friendly” atmosphere, saying, “I think that’s a reflection of his leadership in the community.”
The regular city council meeting that evening began as it always does once a month — with the presentation of the Student of the Month Award. Ever since he took office as mayor, Sakrison has presented the award to an exemplary student from Helen M. Knight Elementary School. With each award came a crisp, new $50 bill.
The award seems to have been well known. What may have been less well known is the fact that each of those $50 bills came from Sakrison’s own pocket — not city coffers.
The award handed out at the meeting, presented by HMK Principal Taryn Kay, went not to a Student of the Month, but to the “Mayor of the Century.”
Reading from a certificate just like those presented to roughly 150 of the city’s youngest citizens over the last 16 years, and with several of the school’s teachers and current former students in attendance, Kay recognized Sakrison as “an outstanding mayor, a positive role model and a shining example for our community.”
Perhaps the most emotion-filled moment of the evening was immediately after, when Sakrison talked to and about the city’s young people.
“The kids are our future,” he said. Then, addressing the young people in the audience directly, he implored, “Please keep it up, okay? Promise me?”
As for Sakrison, he said that Moab should not expect him to go gently into the night.
“Oh, I’ll be around,” Sakrison told someone at one point; and to another, “I’ll keep busy. I promise.”