The final city council meeting held Tuesday evening closed with a roundtable of farewell speeches from outgoing and re-elected councillors.
Stifling tears, Coun. Laurie Walters who was elected for a third consecutive term, praised outgoing Mayor Kerry Cook for her leadership. Walters also acknowledged Coun. Surinderpal Rathor for taking her under his wing when she was first elected and teaching her about governance.
After serving 21 years on council, Rathor entered the race for mayor but lost a close second to Walt Cobb.
“City hall has been like a second home and staff as family all this time,” he said. “Rather than beating my own drum I wish to thank all the city staff, both at city hall, the complex, airport and public works yard.”
Coun. Danica Hughes served one term and did not seek re-election this time around.
Smiling she said there were many nights she went home after a meeting very angry at the decisions made at the council table.
“I had to tell myself, that’s democracy,” Hughes said. “I also learned it’s OK to be honest and stand up for what I believe in.”
Coun. Ivan Bonnell, re-elected for a consecutive term, wished all members good luck in the future.
“I think the biggest legacy this table can lay its hat on if you will is the opportunity made for reconciliation with First Nations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin,” Bonnell said, adding the next council will have to work to maintain and carry that forward.
Stepping down after two terms, Coun. Geoff Bourdon said he learned the greatest challenge facing city council is to get people engaged.
“If the community gave more input and was more engaged then outcomes would be good for the community,” he said. “I challenge the next council to get a better communication tool in the public. That’s a challenge for government on every level.”
Coun. Sue Zacharias, who will also return for a third consecutive term, said she felt the outgoing council had broken open some sensitive subjects and praised Cook for her work on crime reduction in the city.
Cook congratulated the people who won the election and said everyone can anticipate with excitement what the new council is going to do for the community.
“There’s no doubt in my mind you are dedicated and ready to go,” Cook said as she looked out into the chamber where newly elected Scott Nelson and Craig Smith were seated.
Cook said the outcome of the election hasn’t changed her love for Williams Lake.
“I see so much excitement and hope for the future,” Cook said. “I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people in Williams Lake and I know these people will continue to volunteer.”
In January Cook will return to work full-time as an instructor at Thompson Rivers University, after working part-time during her six years as mayor.