After more than a decade of being a friendly face and outspoken voice on the Overland Park City Council, Jim Hix is retiring.
Hix, who represents the Fifth Ward, recently announced that he will not be seeking re-election when his term expires in April.
“For me, 12 years is enough,” he said. “I still want to be involved in the community somehow, but it’s going to be nice to have more free time to spend with my wife.”
He joined the council in 2001, after decades of being a well-known figure in the Johnson County community.
When he was 26, Hix founded Bossler-Hix Personnel, a temp agency that eventually grew into a multi-million dollar company in Overland Park. Throughout the years, he has served as chairman of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, president of the Overland Park Rotary Club, and served on the board of directors for numerous non-profit organizations.
When he sold his company, he sought public office as a way to give back to his community, not as a steppingstone to a political career.
“I’ve never considered myself a politician, just an elected official representing my neighborhood,” Hix said. “When making decisions, I just try to do what I think is right. It’s so much easier to use your best judgment when you’re not worrying about the political consequences.”
Being on the council over the past decade has been inspiring, he added, because the city has accomplished so much in such a short period of time. He is most pleased that Overland Park was able to maintain its AAA bond rating during the economic crisis and that it still maintains the lowest property tax rate of any Class A city in Kansas. He is also thrilled to have been on the council when Money Magazine labeled Overland Park as a Top Ten City in America.
But there have also been some difficult times.
His biggest challenges are when having to vote for issues in which several passionate residents are against it. He always goes with his instinct, even if it makes him unpopular at the time.
“Jim is the perfect example of a public servant because he strives to do what he truly believes is the right thing to do,” said Councilman Terry Goodman, who has known Hix for 30 years. “He’s very open-minded and accessible to everyone involved, whether it be citizens or developers. He’s just interested in making the city a better place for its citizens.”
Hix credits his ability to see the bigger picture to having watched Johnson County develop so drastically over the past several decades.
The Kansas City native was introduced to the area as a youngster when his parents opened a laundromat on 75th Street and Metcalf Avenue. He has lived in Johnson County for most of his adult life, eventually getting married and raising two children.
“Watching this area grow has given me an appreciation for long-range visioning and planning ahead,” he said. “I make land-use decisions while thinking 40 years ahead from now, rather than next year.”
Now that he’s retiring, Hix plans to continue his community service, but also have some time for himself. Perhaps go on some fishing trips and he definitely will play a lot of softball this summer, he said.
,And while Hix is going to miss being on the council, his friend Goodman said the council will miss him even more.
“It’s sad to see him go and it will be hard, if not impossible, to replace him,” said Goodman. “But I have every confidence that Jim will remain an important part of Johnson County leadership and continue to be a source of inspiration for everyone elected and every appointed leader to look up to.”