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Final council meeting ends with tears and cake

Monday night saw an unusually emotional city council meeting, as the five re-elected incumbents said their good-byes to councillor Kirk Duff.

Duff was the only incumbent seeking re-election who lost his seat, and this by a mere 41 votes.  The loss means an end to, or at least a pause in, a 20-year career in municipal politics, 18 of which were served in Castlegar.
 
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, himself a 22-year political veteran, has served the longest with Duff – 18 years.
 
“It’s hard to see him go – He’s made a lot of sacrifices, he’s politically savvy, he’s always there to help. He really is dedicated to his community,” Chernoff said. “Kirk’s experience and the time he invested made him a great asset to the city.
 
“But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him yet.”
 
Duff wasn’t the only person around the council table with teary eyes, but he says he has no regrets.
 
“I wouldn’t have changed anything I’ve done over the past 18 years, because I never did any of it alone,” he said. “I always had six other people, and we worked together – and I think we accomplished a lot for this community.
 
He said he’s not much for staying at home and ignoring the larger community, so he’s now looking into other means of serving Castlegar.
 
“I know I’m going to stay involved doing something, but I don’t know what that is for sure yet,” he said. “Something will pique my interest.”
 
He said he has full faith in the newly-elected council.
 
“The council that was there for the past six years was a tight-knit group, but they’re also very open and welcoming,” he said. “I think the city’s going in the right direction. Everyone just needs to be patient and give them some time to regroup.”
 
He said his final meeting was a memorable one, and he appreciated the memories and kind words shared by his former colleagues ... and the cake, of course.
 
“It was rather overwhelming, to hear all the nice things the other councillors said about me,” he said. “And that they remembered things I had said or done that I’d forgotten a long time ago – it was touching.
 
“And I’d like to thank all the residents who voted for me over the years – without them, I would not have been able to do what I have done.”
 
And finally the obvious question – will he run for office again?
 
“It’s way too early to tell,” he replied.