INNISFAIL – There will no longer be any more golly quotes from the mayor’s chair for the press to write about.
Nor will there be sound bites to draw from the weekly town council Zoom videos.
“And now I would accept a motion to go in-camera,” said mayor Jim Romane to end his last Innisfail town council meeting on Oct. 12.
Romane’s final meeting after 23 years of public service, which included two separate terms as mayor, got off to a good start.
Although it was a long agenda the meeting went smoothly until a delegation of three anti-vaxxers pitched their case against the provincial Restrictions Exemption Program. They then handed each member of council a bogus Notice of Liability, including the mayor who took the high road by thanking them. For Romane, it was immediately back to the job at hand, one he leaves with fond memories and accomplishments, and many moments of hilarity.
Most important for the community, he was the driving force behind the Downtown Revitalization Program, a three-phase $8.5 million project on Main Street that was completed in 2014.
More recently he ensured the million-dollar Innisfail Skatepark got built for the town’s youth.
In 2013, he decided not to seek re-election for mayor but came back in 2017 to win his final term on council, and leaving as a two-time leader of the community. The 75-year-old longtime Innisfailian did so this final time even while courageously battling Parkinson’s disease.
Last year, he led the town through one of its biggest controversies, the anti-racism rally that attracted national attention but not for the right reasons at first. But Romane bravely corrected course, and in the end, the town with its mayor leading the way, shined brilliantly with the notion it could be a national rural leader for tolerance and inclusivity.
“I enjoyed it. I enjoyed all the time on council, with the exception of the last year with this COVID thing,” he told council and its audience during the council-concluding roundtable segment. “It’s changed people’s attitudes so much that some people are just tired of it, and bitter.
“I hope there is some relief here in the near future. You will have your hands full finishing it off anyways."
But others were quick to commend Romane for a job well done.
“You spend 23 or 24 years at this and that is a lot of time,” said Coun. Jean Barclay. “I think the community should give you a heartfelt thank you for all the time you spent what you have been doing. Yes, the year has been tired and we’re all tired of it, very tired of it and hopefully things will move on.”
The following day Romane spoke to The Albertan about his last day. Once again, he was reflective, and candid and honest as always. Romane said he was having mixed feelings about finally retiring, noting the trials of the past year.
“The social media impact on the community is sort of scary because people are inclined to believe what they see on the internet,” said Romane, with one last golly to offer. “They don’t research enough, and golly they come up with some ideas and things that just aren’t rationale.
“Anyways, I had mixed feelings,” he said before concluding with a classic moment of self-depreciating humour. “And then of course at the last meeting when they were going around the table, I missed a couple of people. OK. It’s time to retire.”