FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Mayor Mike Moncrief strode into a meeting room adjacent to the mayor’s office at city hall with suit coat off and with a smile on his face. A dozen people sit at or stand around the conference table wearing freshly minted city employee badges. “First of all, I want to welcome all of you to the great City of Fort Worth.”
Unknown to most outside of city hall, Mayor Mike Moncrief greets most new city employees when they’re hired.
But this group of employees will be his last. He’s retiring. “What will you do when you retire?” one of the new employees asks the mayor. “For every day you’re in public office, that’s a day you don’t get to spend with your family”, Moncrief reflected.
Later, Moncrief sat down in an empty City Council Chamber. “That’s where you run the train and where you take care of the people’s business,” Moncrief said as he nodded at the Mayor’s seat at the center of dais. “Its a pretty special place. There’s only been 41 other folks that have had the opportunity to sit in that chair.”
Moncrief has a list of milestones while in office. He helped shape gas drilling regulations that are studied by other cities across the country. He points to public/private ventures in bringing the Omni Hotel downtown, for new development in decaying parts of fort worth and for making strides in helping the homeless off the streets.
“Regrets? In this job? No. None at all,” Moncrief said. “Just appreciation for being allowed to do it.”
But its in tough times you see where a person’s strength lies. And there were challenges and tragedies on Moncrief’s watch — four drowned at the water gardens, there was national scrutiny over police behavior after a raid on a gay lounge, and serious budget shortfalls.
And then there was what Moncrief calls his hardest emotional days in office: The murder of police officer Hank Nava. And the mayor wasn’t alone. “That was a tough, tough time,” said Moncrief’s wife Rosie. “That was truly one of the dark moments.”
And it was in that dark time you could see how important Moncriefs closest partner is. She not only was a personal shoulder for Moncrief, she escalated her efforts to build a police/fire memorial and the couple made it their mission.
“It was sad that our city did not have a police and fire memorial at that time,” Rosie said. “I understood the gravity of it.”
As the couple mourned with the Nava family, they pushed forward with fund-raising to create not just a memorial, but a place of solace for families. Now there is a monument-lined walkway leading up to towering statues of a lawman and firefighter surrounded on one side by granite walls with the names of the fallen on them.
“When I drive by and see families touching names it brings tears to my eyes,” Rosie Moncrief said. “But it also brings a little bit of joy that they have this very beautiful, special place.”
As Mike and Rosie hold hands and pause to look at the memorial it is easy to see this is a couple who’ve been in public service for decades and is now retiring. “In dog years is how we count it,” laughed Rosie when asked how long they’d been in public life. “Its approaching 40,” Mayor Moncrief said.
“I think that’s part of our partnership,” Rosie said. “For better or worse in tough times and good times. I have always tried to be there for him. Whether it was a jubilant day or whether it was one of those dark hours.”
So is there now a honey-do list for Mike Moncrief? “I have my own,” Rosie said. “I don’t have one for Mike.”
“Oh, I do,” Mike Moncrief said with a wry grin on his face. “I’m going to help with the house. I have some great decorating ideas and — “
“No,” interrupted Rosie. “No?” asked Mike feigning confusion. “Thank you sweetheart,” laughed Rosie, “But I have it under control!”
“We’re working on our bucket list,” Mayor Moncrief said. “We’ve been working on 744,000 other bucket lists. Its time to start working on our own. We’re looking forward to it.”
“We’re looking forward to making our own agendas on our own schedule on our own time, for a change,” added Rosie.
“Its time for us to make some memories with our grand children,” said the Mayor. “And its time, if at all possible, to lower our golf handicaps.”
One of the things the mayor said he looks forward to the most is eating dinner with Rosie on Tuesday nights. Those are the nights city council meets and Rosie usually was home alone eating leftovers.
The Moncriefs say you’ll still see them around. But they’ll be on their own time, since they’re time dedicated to public service is over. “I think we made more people happy than mad,” said Mayor Moncrief “And if we can say that than I think its mission accomplished.”