Steve Papineau's interest in city finances was the catalyst for his 2013 run for Grandview Heights City Council.
Serving on council the past four years has been like taking a master class in city government, he said.
"It's been a really interesting and educational experience," he said.
Papineau will leave council at the end of the year after deciding not to run for re-election to a second term.
"I've learned about all the little things that go into running a city," he said. "As a general person on the outside, I never paid attention to everything that's involved. I knew about police and fire, but I never thought about all the detail it takes to operate the sewers and the electric lines, the parks and the pool, all of that.
"What surprised me the most was realizing that the city can't stop. It doesn't get to shut down," Papineau said.
He said he wasn't spurred into action by any one issue or concern, but instead, he was simply "interested in learning more about city finances and how budget decisions are made."
"I began attending council meetings and finance committee meetings," Papineau said. "My wife suggested that I should think about running for council if I really wanted to have a say in things, so I did."
Papineau joined council four years ago along with Greta Kearns and Chris Smith.
"We really got to hit the ground running, because right away we were involved in negotiating a revision of the development agreement with Nationwide for Grandview Yard. That was an intense and interesting process to jump right into."
That agreement helped pave the way for Nationwide Insurance to move its headquarters and more than 3,000 jobs to the Yard.
"I'd have to say that's probably one of the most satisfying things I've been involved with on council," Papineau said. "The city suffered financially when all the activity in the area that's now the Yard disappeared. Now, with the Yard and all of the jobs coming in, we've been able to strengthen the city's financial base."
As a councilman, "I've tried to match where I think my strengths lie and bring those to the table," he said. "One of my strengths is to be able to work with a lot of different perspectives and, when there is a issue where people might tend to butt heads and find it hard to see eye to eye, to try to help find common ground where everyone can agree."
His term in office has allowed him to work "with some really talented and smart people," both on council and within the administration, Papineau said.
"It's been a real pleasure," he said.
Smith and Kearns were elected to their second terms Nov. 7. Anthony Panzera also was re-elected to his fifth term, and first-time candidate Melanie Houston won election as well.
Papineau said his responsibilities as president at Shelby Management, a commercial real-estate firm, made it increasingly difficult to find the time needed to fulfill his duties as a councilman.
"Between all the regular meetings and committee meetings, it's quite a commitment," he said. "I don't like doing things halfway. If I didn't feel like I had the time I need to devote to council, it's time to step aside. I knew there were others who were eager to run and serve on council.
"Getting the chance to serve a term on council has been a great experience. I wouldn't change anything," Papineau said.