INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Hearts are heavy in Independence, Missouri.

Independence City Councilmember At-Large Karen Deluccie, who’d just been elected to a third term, died on Tuesday afternoon. City leaders said Deluccie had been diagnosed with lung cancer in February.

“Karen wasn’t really an official. She only was a person. Literally, everyone loved her,” Dan Hobart, Independence

Hobart said he and Deluccie engaged in spirited debates, but each of them admired the other professionally. Hobart said Deluccie was still active in last week’s election, even while undergoing treatment.

“She lived every day like it was her last. She enjoyed it all. She is and was — and may always be — the strongest person I’ve known,” Hobart said.

Councilmembers said Deluccie was instrumental in building Santa Caligon Days and other community celebrations, and her voice as an attorney and a fiscal conservative kept growth going while staying on budget.

On Wednesday, flags at Independence city buildings were lowered to half-staff in her on honor. Deluccie gave 20 years of service to the city and its people.

“She saw that as an opportunity to be a voice for the common person,” Zach Walker, Independence city manager, said. “It didn’t matter what part of the city you were from. It didn’t matter if you were a prince or a pauper. In fact, the closer you were to a pauper, Karen was going to be your advocate and ally.”

As for what’s ahead for finding Deluccie’s successor, city leaders are in no hurry. Walker said typical city procedure is to hold a special election, but the council will need to discuss and plan.

Deluccie’s funeral mass is planned for next Tuesday at St. Mark’s Catholic Church.

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