‘We must all be guided by the standards of excellence,’ out-going St. Thomas mayor Heather Jackson in her farewell remarks

city_scope_logo-cmykMonday’s meeting (Nov. 19) marked the end of term for council and with it the departure from the chamber of Mayor Heather Jackson and councillors Steve Wookey and Mark Burgess.
While the latter two chose to forego any closing words, Jackson took the opportunity to deliver an emotional farewell after 15 years on council, the last eight as mayor.
Calling it a great honour and opportunity to serve as mayor, Jackson opened her remarks by thanking “all of you who have allowed me this opportunity to serve you and I wish to thank you for your exemplary citizenship that has allowed this city to become a higher, more just and beautiful and liveable city.”
Jackson noted the job of mayor “is very fulfilling in that the responsibilities are not abstract or theoretical, but rather direct, specific and intimate.
“The responsibility for you and your children’s safety at home and at work, on the streets, for your neighbourhood parks to be safe, beautiful and active for you and your children’s play.
“Your garbage and recycling need to be collected, your neighbourhood peaceful and tidy.
“An economy bustling benefits your livelihood. A city growing in fiscal strength and fairness. The inspiration of art is accessible to all. Lovely and positive civic spaces.
“Your reason for optimism for the future. And to serve you in time of crisis and so much more.”Jackson went on to advise by attending to those and other responsibilities, “I’ve had the opportunity to hear from you. Your letters, emails, phone calls, these council meetings, meetings in my office, neighbourhood association meetings, civic organizations, even coming out of the grocery store and walking down the street, and so many other encounters.
“Through thousands of ways of communicating, I got to know the citizens of this community. And feel and appreciate their goodness and get to understand their heart’s wishes.”
This interaction with residents, according to Jackson, “has inspired me to work harder, to do more and to do it better. And to never give up. It has made me St. Thomas proud.
“Through all of our encounters and communications, I also got to know what we find most fulfilling and what will enrich your lives and the lives of your children. And what will make you happy and proud of in your city. And then, together, we undertook to turn those aspirations into reality.
Mayor JacksonJackson continued, “Whether it was seeking to make our city more welcoming for tourists or whether it was making our city safer and more liveable through building a community recycling centre or a skateboard park, a new police services building or updated and improved recreational facilities. Or whether it was repairing ageing infrastructure, we accomplished all of this together.
She conceded, “Some of these projects were polarizing on the community, but we persevered and we helped move this incredible community forward.”
She made note of the many initiatives “you, the good people of our community, instituted and maintained. And I love the honour of supporting you as we made our community a better place to live, work and raise your family.
“That is why it is such an honour to serve.”
Jackson stressed history will judge all of those achievements.
“All the achievements were not one. Rather they were yours and the over 400 hard-working city employees with whom I had the privilege to work. And my many colleagues on city council and the surrounding municipalities. I accomplished nothing alone.
“Nor is this the time to list projects and initiatives for the next few years. That is for our new council.

“I was taught to leave things better than how we found them. And, I think I’ve accomplished that.”

“Rather, I would like to conclude with the following thoughts for our city and its future.
“We must all be guided by the standards of excellence. That is, we have a responsibility to seek excellence in everything we do.
“We must look well into the future and ask ourselves if what we are considering will be deemed excellent in 25, 50 or even 100 years from now.
“And this is ever more important in a time of economic growth. It is easy to willingly accept mediocrity. It is hard to demand excellence. But, that is what this great city and its citizens deserve.
“I was taught to leave things better than how we found them. And, I think I’ve accomplished that.
“I want to thank my family and friends for their unconditional love and support. Particularly in the last eight years.
“The role of mayor is very demanding. And I often put in well over 50 hours a week, including evenings and weekends. This meant I wasn’t always there for Sunday dinner or a soccer game or hockey game or Pathfinder camp. Although, I’m pretty sure my mom will be glad to not answer phone calls from me halfway around the world telling her I have a broken foot again.
“I’m very much looking forward to spending more time with my amazing nieces and nephews. They were one of the reasons I wanted to be on council and make our community a better place for their future.
“I am very confident that we’re in a positive, forward motion and things will only continue to improve.
“To my dad, thank you for everything. And to my incredible partner Jeff, thank you for being my rock.”
Jackson concluded her comments by observing, “Even though my time is up and serving you will be over, the memories will never leave me. They will nourish me every day of my life. And, as I leave, I wish you all the very best of luck and success in the future in the city that I love. Thank you.
Immediately following the out-going mayor’s closing remarks, Coun. Linda Stevenson moved a motion “that the words of her worship be included in the minutes of the meeting.”
A motion unanimously endorsed.

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