For the last four years we’ve been privileged to have a Mayor whose leadership redefined our city and, thereby, our very selves. In the course of his tenure, he embodied what it means to serve in the strongest sense of that word; he exemplified what it means ‘to be in service.’ So when a few days ago Mel shared the news that he wasn’t going to re-offer in the upcoming election, I wept.
Mayor Norton is one of the few people I know whose inner eye
is constantly scanning the near and far horizons in search of opportunities to serve, and to serve better. And what I’ll especially miss is how humbly and selflessly Mel went about his – and our — business, more often than not far from the glare of media attention.
Among the host of his many qualities the one I most admire is the level of attention he instinctively offers his community, a community that begins with his immediate family and friends, and naturally widens out to include the entire city in a complex of active and vital circles of concern.
There is a lot of about Mayor Norton that the general public may not know. We all saw evidence of his strong work ethic in person and in the media, but there was a private and personal side to Mel Norton that made him not just an effective Mayor but a complete and committed citizen.
For example, if you ever notice the unholy time signature on certain of Mel’s emails or tweets, you’ll know how early the business of being Mayor Norton typically began. 5 a.m. wasn’t an usual hour at which to receive communication from him. This, one might argue, could be put down to his being an ‘early riser’. But then you’d have to explain the fact that the stream of communication issuing from him often flowed unabated until midnight, often as not seven days a week.
My friendship with Mel and Stephanie dates back to 2000. Over the past 15 years I’ve watched them both, via their careers and through their volunteerism, working very hard to make Saint John a better place. I’m convinced Saint John is a more prosperous, hopeful and enlightened city today because of Mel’s (and Stephanie’s) commitment to serving the citizens of Saint John over the last four years.
Mayor Mel Norton, thank you. Thank you for showing us what true leadership can accomplish. We owe you so much. Please accept our gratitude and appreciation.
If at some point in the near or distant future you change your mind, I have no doubt the better part of this beautiful – and aptly christened – Renaissance City would welcome your leadership back with open arms.
Judith Mackin with Robert Moore