The nomenclature may have changed.
But the essential chain of command remains unbroken.
The unofficial title of ‘her worship’ bestowed by her husband John around the family home did have a nice ring, admitted Liz Lessif following his final council meeting as mayor Monday evening. But reverting to her previous rank is not exactly downward mobility.
“He always called me admiral of the fleet,” she smiled inside council chambers. “He was captain of the ship and I was admiral before – I guess it’s just a different stage.”
Mayor Lessif’s announced decision to chart a course back to private – and family - life will become official as the calendar turns to May. But there was room at the close of the last meeting he would chair for both credit from fellow members of council, and a final farewell that included a reminder he was not entirely sailing off into the sunset.
“Remember, I have just stepped back – I haven’t moved away.”
Following praise from individual councilors, Deputy Mayor Mark Renaud spoke from prepared statements on Lessif’s example of community service, “Not just in Tillsonburg, but throughout the county.”
Renaud also touched on how being an agent of change can be a lonely path, while crediting the mayor for significant contribution. In Renaud’s mind, number one was the rare achievement of challenging a province on its way of doing business as a member of the coalition of mayors. Ultimately, the coalition achieved savings on the cost of policing in the millions of dollars over the long term in this municipality alone, credited Renaud, citing this outcome as one with a positive financial impact.
“I sincerely wish you, Liz and family much happiness and success moving forward,” Renaud added in conclusion.
Speaking off the cuff, Lessif called his time as Tillsonburg’s mayor “A great, great experience in my life,” as well as an honour and a privilege.
“There will be much that I will miss, however it is time to get back to my regular life, my family and my grandchildren.”
Lessif said he viewed Tillsonburg’s citizens in a similar light to his customers when he was in business.
“My boss, who I reported to, were the citizens of Tillsonburg.”
Lessif touched on other similarities, including a belief that one cannot stand still either in business or government.
“The minute you do that, you go backwards.”
Moving forward, he challenged council to build on ‘a lot of success’ by continuing to build relationships and collaborate, adding that as the second-largest contributor in terms of taxation to The County of Oxford, it was important to get a maximum return on that contribution.
“The way to do this is work together, collaborate together.”
In conclusion, Lessif stated he offered up his experience and skills when he ran for the position of mayor, bringing those to the table for the betterment of a community, maintaining that approach throughout his time in office.
“Thank you very much,” he concluded. “We’ll call for adjournment.”