|Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Departing Roanoke council members honored for service
|Each received a standing ovation during a reception at the Jefferson Center.
By Todd Jackson
Outgoing Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith received a key to the city for his service during a reception Monday night, and he returned the favor by handing over the keys to the mayor's office.
The keys Smith gave to Mayor-elect Nelson Harris were fastened to the same red, white and blue ribbon that Smith received from former Mayor David Bowers four years ago.
Bowers, who was on stage with Smith and Harris, took a look at the old ribbon and cracked, "Ralph, they say you're pretty tight with a dollar."
As the audience of close to 100 roared with laughter, Smith replied, "Waste not, want not."
Bowers gave Smith a T-shirt with the slogan "I survived the mayor's office," printed on the front, and Bowers added that there will now be only three living former city mayors - himself, Smith and Robert Woody.
Smith and outgoing Roanoke City Council members Bill Bestpitch and Linda Wyatt were honored Monday during the reception at the Jefferson Center's Fitzpatrick Hall. All three were given keys to the city, each received a standing ovation from the crowd, and Councilman Alfred Dowe serenaded them with an inspirational song.
Smith, a Republican, decided not to seek re-election after only one term in office. Bestpitch also is leaving the council after one term after failing to get a Democratic nomination in a party primary in February. Wyatt, also a Democrat, is leaving as the council's senior member with 10 years of service. She also lost her bid for re-election in the party primary. The trio's council terms end Wednesday.
Smith thanked the crowd during his remarks Monday and said he was without words to adequately describe his gratitude for those who gave him the opportunity to serve as mayor.
Bestpitch was praised for his attention to detail and for helping to create the city's Urban Forestry Task Force as well as the Roanoke Neighborhood Advocates organization.
Bestpitch offered his thanks to Roanoke residents who volunteer their time and efforts to serve on the city's many boards and commissions. He also credited Smith for starting regular regional talks between governmental leaders that have led to increased cooperation.
Wyatt, long known for her determined support of the underprivileged and underserved, urged the council to continue to remember that it represents "all the citizens."