“I don't know what my choices will be in the future — I'm not precluding anything,” pledged Lightner in an exit interview with the La Jolla Village News.
Jennifer Nichols Kearns, Lightner's director of communications, cited her boss's record of being a “community activist who fought for what was important in her communities.”
“Look at all that Sherri's done in eight years,” said Nichols Kearns. “We're not sure there's any other councilperson who has accomplished as many solid goals in office with water policy, economic development and all the reforms in city processes.”
Lightner also drew high praise from former Council colleague Ed Harris, who returned to lifeguarding after a nine-month stint as Second District Councilman.
“Sherri got funding for all the lifeguard towers in her district,” said Harris adding, “She has been a driving force for funding for the lifeguards and their new fireboat. She's always been there for us. She's found quiet ways of getting things done. She was also a great mentor to me.”
Lightner claims she didn't have any expectations going into office.
“I knew a lot about land use,” she said. “I knew how I thought things worked. I just wanted to represent the communities. I had no idea really the mechanics of it.”
The outgoing city councilwoman said things have improved drastically financially for the city in the last eight years.
“When I took office we (city) were not even current with our financial statement,” she said. “We could not secure bonds to do any of the infrastructure improvements we needed to do. We have changed all that.”
Lightner said it's been her privilege to “create a water policy with a checklist” for its implementation.
“At various stages, that has been a guide for the public utilities department,” she said adding she was also glad to be part of the “reformation of the entire CIP (Capital Improvement Project) which now has five-year outlooks and five-year capital plans moving forward.”
Lightner, an engineer by trade, is also proud of the work she's done while in office promoting science and technology at all levels, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in schools.
“A technical education is something you will never be sorry you have,” she said. “You will always have a job, or always be able to retrain for something else.”
Asked if she would encourage others to pursue becoming a local legislator, Lightner answered, “I would encourage anyone with a passion to do it, especially if their goal is to serve the community. I think it's very important to have folks who have done other things as councilmembers.”
In closing, Lighnter said, “They say all issues are local. I think it (city government) has been fun. I do enjoy my constituents, even when they're cranky. If I can help someone … It's really great.”