Ashland has lost a longtime leader who epitomized the best of public service. Former City Councilor Don Laws died last week at 81.
Laws, whose tenure on the City Council spanned three decades, was thoughtful, hard-working and always respectful of contrasting points of view. He was remembered for making decisions based on what he thought was best for the city, not out of self-interest.
Former Mayor Cathy Shaw, who defeated Laws in a mayoral race, called him "a perfect city councilor."
A professor of political science at Southern Oregon University, Laws reportedly was not the most dynamic lecturer. But that can be a valuable trait in a city councilor who must get along with multiple colleagues while making decisions on less-than-thrilling subjects such as zoning and street repair.
Laws earned the respect of many over the years, from fellow SOU professor Bill Meulemans and Social Science Department Chairman Vaughn Bornet to fellow council member Susan Reid, who praised his ability to listen.
Upon leaving the council in 2005, Laws noted Ashland's growth.
"We'll have to work to make Ashland the best small city we can instead of the best small town," he said. "If we can't keep it a small town, let's make it the best small city in the world."
Of his work on the council, he said, "I hope they were good and intelligent decisions. I hope the city is at least 1 percent better because I was on the council."
We'd say that was being characteristically modest.