ELYRIA — The year’s final City Council meeting ended an era in city government.
It signified the grand finale of outgoing Republican Councilman Garry Gibbs. The longtime representative of the 3rd Ward lost his re-election bid lost month.
He paused Monday night to reflect on a two-decade tenure that started Dec. 6, 1993, a time when a postage stamp was 29 cents and a gallon of gas cost $1.09.
Gibbs ran the numbers. In more than 20 years, he saw multiple Council members come and go, three mayors, a couple of law directors, a finance director, two city halls and attended 1,063 Council and committee meetings.
“It has been a very rewarding adventure, and in the process I have made many wonderful and lasting friendships with an array of outstanding citizens,” he said.
Gibbs knows it’s not easy being a Republican in a heavily Democratic-leaning town. Heads often get bumped.
Former Law Director Terry “Pete” Shilling acknowledged as much. He attended the meeting to wish Gibbs well.
“We didn’t always see eye to eye, but you always put your constituents and the city of Elyria first,” he said. “I salute you for your 20 years of dedicated service, and I thank you.”
The accolades kept coming. From Councilman Vic Stewart, D-at large, who said he always valued Gibbs’ experience, knowledge and commitment, to Donna Mitchell, D-6th Ward, who said she relished sitting next to the outspoken Councilman for several years, each member toasted Gibbs.
“You supported me in so many ways and encouraged me to get involved in the process,” said Mark Craig, I-4th Ward. “If it weren’t for you, I don’t think I would be here.”
Gibbs, who joked it was finally time to clean out five file cabinets full of the minutes of every meeting he has attended, said he always approached the job because of his love of Elyria.
“When someone calls me for help, I never asked them which political party they belong to,” he said. “My philosophy when it comes to Council: You can’t have your own agenda. Council members should always have some healthy discussion and good thoughts on certain things, especially when spending taxpayers’ dollars.”
Gibbs said his loss does not mean he has given up on serving Elyria.
“I still have 15 days left, and you just never know when you might see the Gibbs name on a ballot in the near future,” he said.