Leaders in the community
While the Mayor’s Breakfast helped say farewell to Mayor Duncan, it also gave the community an opportunity to recognize Shirley Coons for her years of dedicated service. Coons was awarded the Community Builder Award during the morning festivities. From left to right Mayor Eric Duncan, Shirley Coons, councillor John Thompson and mayor-elect Tony Fraser. Glover photo
CHESTERVILLE – After eight years of proudly serving as the youngest mayor in the history of North Dundas, it is time to say goodbye to Eric Duncan.
Duncan will leave office on Tues., Dec. 4 and mayor-elect Tony Fraser will officially take over the duty as the fourth mayor of North Dundas. However, before the inauguration, council members and family wanted to give Duncan a proper send-off during the mayoral breakfast Fri., Nov. 23 at North Dundas District High School.
“I’ve been lucky enough to serve for every single mayor that North Dundas has ever had including the willful leadership of Claude Cousineau and the quiet, social conscience of Alvin Runnalls. But the forward-thinking, the passion, the drive and just the calling to do this job [that Duncan possessed] will be, at best, matched but never surpassed,” said Al Armstrong, North Dundas’ deputy-mayor-elect, who kicked off the presentation. “I have known [Duncan] since he was seven years old, and to watch the transformation from sitting on the council to the last official meeting we had, has just been a joy to watch. A metamorphosis that I have certainly not paralleled and I think, no one will argue, no one else has matched.”
Fraser added: “Mr. Mayor, your service to this community and to me personally is without equal and we couldn’t imagine being here today without your leadership and direction and I do appreciate your time with us.”
Duncan’s family was in attendance to give their version of his story that the rest of North Dundas missed. Duncan’s father, Ed Duncan, recounted as far back as the late ’90s when the future mayor wanted to have a discussion on the healthcare system.
“Back around 1997, Eric was about 10-years-old and he asked me if he could join me for lunch,” he said. “On the way there, Eric asked me if we could debate about the healthcare system. I asked Beatrice: ‘What have we created?’ He has worked hard at every job he’s had and we’re so very proud of him – of what he’s accomplished to date.”
Duncan’s sister, Jill Murphy added: “I could go on for hours about this wonderful man and the details of how he’s served our community but I’m sure most of you already know that. So, I would just like to introduce my brother and best friend. He’s accomplished a lot of things in a short life but when I see him, I see someone who’s always there for our family, someone who would drop everything to help someone in need.”
Finally Duncan took the stage to thank everyone for coming out to wish him well after he leaves office in December.
“It doesn’t feel like eight years have passed since being sworn in as mayor. I look back to years ago and the first thing I think about upon reflection in the last little while is, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’,” he said jokingly. “I walked across the stage and graduated from here in 2005, and if I had said in five years I was going to be elected as mayor at 22, the principal probably would’ve taken me off the stage in a straitjacket. I was so grateful to my hometown community that gave me the opportunity to achieve a dream. In the eight years we’ve been together, we’ve seen $180-million in new development and growth in North Dundas.”
Duncan continued to reflect on the opportunities he’s had to meet people in the community and make a difference in North Dundas. “I have full confidence in our new council and you should too. It’s been a wonderful ride. Thank you very much.”
During the festivities, community member Shirley Coons was recognized for her years of service with the Community Builder Award. Her accomplishments include: working with the Green Action Gang, helping to create Flynn Park, working as a driver for cancer patients, hosting international students and helping to construct the new legion, among many others.
Reporter/Photographer for Chesterville Record and Eastern Ontario Agrinews. Currently working on Record segment, “Chilling Tales from Beyond”