On the Beat in Bluffton

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ted Ellis — according to those who know him

The Wells County Chamber of Commerce has named Bluffton Mayor Ted Ellis the Wells County Citizen of the Year for 2012. Though Ellis said he didn't expect the distinction and that others deserve it more, many of his acquaintances disagree.

Bob Bate, city court judge and former member of the Bluffton Common Council:

I'm happy to hear that Mayor Ted Ellis has been selected the Citizen of the Year. I believe Ted has been a very proactive mayor. Over the years, we haven't always agreed on various initiatives on City Council, but I believe we both respected each other despite our differences.

Whenever Ted would deliver a speech, I was amazed at his ability to tie his thoughts together with a quote from some famous person.

I know he cares for our community deeply and I offer my congratulations to him for his great accomplishments as our mayor.

Marge Ellis, wife:
I don’t like politics. So imagine my surprise when I fell in love with a politician! I had met Ted before he became mayor, though he was on the County Council. I was drawn in by his sense of humor and kind heart. As I spent more time with him, I discovered his integrity, loyalty, humility and deep faith.

Ted is not your garden-variety politician. He views public service as just that, being a “public servant.” He approaches his job as mayor as more of a calling than a career. I believe he strives to be a servant leader.

He’s pretty smart, he could have gone elsewhere and made a successful career. He chose to stay here, because he truly loves Bluffton.

Tami Runyon, Bluffton's clerk-treasurer:
Ted's primary concern is always Bluffton and what he can do to improve life for his family and our community. Dedicated and devoted, it is not uncommon for him to be at the office late in the evening and on weekends. He has helped keep tax rates the lowest in northeast Indiana and one of the lowest in the state, yet Bluffton has continued to see improvements and growth.

His perseverance and accomplishments are well known. Throughout the year I attend meetings both statewide and nationally, and so often when asked where I am from, usually the next question is “Isn’t that where Ted Ellis is from?”

Bluffton has grown and improved so much in the past 20 years, a growth that would not have happened without Ted, and I firmly believe that there is not a better representative for our city.

Jim Phillabaum, longtime member of the Bluffton Common Council:
It has been my pleasure to serve with Ted Ellis in local government for 16 years. During that time I have come to respect his passion for making Bluffton a better place to live and work. While some people might consider Ted to be a politician, the Ted I know is far from being a politician. I do not recall any decision he has made from a strictly political standpoint. Ted approaches the needs of Bluffton from the standpoint of what is best for the community and the people he serves.

Ted leads by example and is always open to the suggestions of the city employees and the other elected city officials. If he does not agree with an employee or official he takes the time to explain why.

Ted has become a government leader not only in his hometown but also in the nation and the world. The offices he holds in the National League of Cities and the international association United Cities and Local Governments exemplifies his intellectual and leadership abilities.

John Schultz, Decatur mayor
I want to personally congratulate Mayor Ellis for the recognition and award. The Wells County Chamber of Commerce is to be commended for selecting Ted for the award.

Ted is a joy to work with and has always been helpful anytime I have called for his opinion, especially four years ago when I first took office as the mayor of Decatur. He has also helped foster a solid relationship between our two communities and I am very grateful for

Ted is very respected not only by his peers in northeast Indiana, but as well as across the state and nation.

Jill Ellis Baughan, the mayor's (much younger) sister:
The summer Ted turned 22, he enlisted me — his much younger sister — to drive his getaway car. He was running for auditor, and his goal was to shake hands with and introduce himself to every person in Wells County.

Since I was a newly licensed teenage driver, this little adventure was actually fun for me. But after a lot of hours on country roads, a lot of knocking on strangers’ doors, a lot of barking dogs and one unfortunate running-out-of-gas incident (my fault), I remember thinking, “This is an awful lot of trouble for a job that, let’s face it, isn’t gonna make him rich. I’d never want to invest all this effort in being a politician.”

Fast-forward 40-plus years (a long time, yes, but I am still his much younger sister). Now, as mayor of Bluffton, he has invested himself way beyond door-knocking and hand-shaking, doing things like inspiring the city to build a Rivergreenway, bringing City Hall back to life, and transforming the scenes of a disastrous flood into oases of peace and even fun.

He has also willingly sacrificed his personal reputation by riding in parades in manure spreaders, getting pies thrown in his face, hurling himself around in a moon walk, and dressing up like a duck.

Seriously, this is proof that the man will stop at nothing to serve the public.

It also explains his answer to me last year when we were talking about the hassles of being president, and I asked, “Why in the world do people want to run for public office? So many headaches … dealing with the stress of campaigning … somebody’s always unhappy … somebody’s always criticizing what you’re doing no matter what you’re doing …”

And he said this to me: “Most people don’t run for office because they like to campaign. They don’t run because they want to be politicians. They just run because they really believe they can make a difference.”

Ted is not, never has been and, I’m guessing, never will be a politician. He’s just a guy who really believes he can make a difference.

And obviously, he has.

Mike Row, Wells County's director of economic development:
If, as Shakespeare said, "Action is eloquence," Mayor Ted Ellis rivals the greatest orators of history. A tireless champion for the city of Bluffton, Ted is an exemplary leader who dedicates his considerable gifts to the daily pursuit of the greater good.

And now the nation's municipal leaders have honored our mayor by electing him to serve as the president of the National League of Cities. Ted's willingness to take on this considerable responsibility brings never-before-seen attention to our community that will resonate in a
positive manner for years to come.

More than that, Ted exemplifies the command found in the Book of Micah: "To do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

This is why I say without reservation: There is no more deserving recipient of the 2012 Citizen of the Year award than Mayor Ted Ellis.

Congratulations, Ted!

Matthew Greller, executive director and CEO of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns:
Mayor Ted Ellis is one of the most respected individuals in local government. He represents his community tirelessly, yet still makes advancing the profession of public service a top priority. Ted's history in local government spans nearly his entire career and he seems to never stop looking for new ways to serve.

Ted's service to IACT began almost immediately upon taking office as mayor of Bluffton in 1996. Ted participated on and chaired several key committees and eventually became IACT President in 2003. He remains a member of our board of directors and is still a critical participant in our advocacy and education programs.

Ted's talents were recognized nationally as he rose through the ranks at IACT. I was not surprised in the least that the National League of Cities chose Ted to be their current president. He is one of the most diplomatic, ethical and thoughtful municipal leaders I have ever known and I couldn't be happier for Ted's well deserved successes and recognition.

Learn more in the Wednesday, Jan. 11, News-Banner.

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