Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
After 50 years in public service, including two stints as mayor, you might think that one would be ready to ride off into the sunset with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Not so with Keith Culliton, who during a farewell address to his colleagues on city council last Monday, Nov. 24 reiterated a pledge that he told reporters back on election night just minutes after learning that his 15 consecutive years at city hall would be coming to an end.
“I’ve thought hard about what’s going to happen in four years’ time, and I’m going to try it again,” he said to loud applause.
The veteran politician was lauded by Mayor Dan Mathieson during the final meeting of the 2010-14 city council for his unparalleled dedication to public service, a desire to do what’s best in the interests of everyone, and for a love of the community.
Culliton ran for city council in 1970 after 10 years on the local Catholic school board, and served as an alderman for two years. In 1972 he was elected mayor and in ‘74 lost his bid for re-election to Betty McMillan by just 80 votes. Two years later, in 1976, Culliton was acclaimed as mayor.
He shifted his focus a bit in 1978 and joined the now-defunct Stratford Public Utilities Commission, where he served until 1999, at which point he was re-elected as a councillor, serving in that capacity right up to this week when council held its swearing-in ceremony for the new group of elected officials.
At last week’s meeting, members of council and municipal staff also said their goodbyes to outgoing councillors Karen Smythe and Howard Famme.
Smythe served two terms starting in 2006 and found herself, as chair of planning and heritage and a member of the heritage advisory committee, directly involved in many hot-button heritage-related decisions.
Coun. Frank Mark said Smythe had put up with “some pretty tough combatants in the world of our heritage, especially over the last few years,” but that she had “handled it very well and professionally, and as good as anybody could.”
Smythe thanked city staff for showing her the ropes during her first few years in office and said it was a privilege to have served with the other councillors.
Most of all, Smythe said she wanted to thank the citizens who put their trust in her to be their voice at the municipal level.
“I’m truly grateful for the two terms that they put me here,” she added.
Famme, meanwhile, has wrapped up his second go-around on council after serving one term from 2003-06. He was appointed to council earlier this year to fill the seat left empty after the death of Paul Nickel in April.
Famme, who the mayor credited with giving council reason to pause on more than one occasion, said that he “had a hoot” these last seven months.