FARMINGTON — Councilor Jason Sandel's final Farmington City Council meeting Tuesday night was an emotional one.
Sandel, who announced earlier this year he would not run again for the District 4 seat, served eight years on the council. Nate Duckett and Debra Mayeux are vying for Sandel's seat in the March 4 election.
"Anybody who spends eight years of their life in this public service — which I really consider volunteerism — deserves our recognition," Mayor Tommy Roberts said of Sandel after the council approved the few items on the agenda.
Roberts added that a special person is needed for the sacrifices public service demands. He then walked over to Sandel, shook his hand and awarded him a plaque recognizing his service.
In their closing comments, the rest of the council thanked Sandel, too.
Councilor Mary Fischer said the first time she met Sandel was when his mother handed him — then a newborn baby — to her. She said she was glad he didn't throw up on her, and he squirmed a lot.
But newborn Sandel was lively, she said, and she expected a lot from him.
And now, she sees in him his father's fiscal conservatism and dedication to the democratic process, she said. And she also sees in him his mother's determination to improve the city's quality of life, she said.
"So Jason's DNA is so geared to public service that he probably makes the rest of us look like rank amateurs," she said.
Before he left office, Sandel said, he wanted to recognize city staff for putting up with him, as he acknowledged he asked hard questions.
"I just wanted to say, 'Thank you, very much, for what you do,'" he said.
He also thanked the rest of council, beginning with Fischer.
Fischer's personality is incredible, he said. Out of nowhere she will pitch an idea that benefits the public, he said. One meeting, for example, he was rambling until she cut in, he said.
"And Mary comes to the microphone and says, 'I think we need to have a free swim night,'" he said, shortly before starting to cry.
Sandel said he also appreciates Councilor Dan Darnell for his dedication in addressing crime, Councilor Gayla McCulloch for her focus on the future and Roberts, who Sandel said he respects for how he manages "the sometimes stormy seas that I can create."
"I want to share my respect for all these fine people and all of you standing behind them," Sandel said, looking from the council to the audience.