Hatley mayor steps down
Last Monday evening, Jacques de Léséleuc unofficially bid farewell to his fellow council members and constituents, presiding over his final Council Meeting as mayor of the Municipality of Hatley.
De Léséleuc, who has held the position of mayor since 2003, is resigning his post a year before the end of his term, in 2013. At the end of Monday’s meeting he took the opportunity to say a few words about his confessed “bizarre” reasons for the early departure.
He’d recently put his home, on the shores of Lake Massiwippi, up for sale, planning to relocate to Magog after his term ended. He expected months would pass, at least, before an offer would be made on the house, much less a buyer found—and much less one wanting to finalize the sale and take possession within four weeks.
This, however, is exactly what happened. And de Léséleuc suddenly found himself in the rather awkward position of being mayor in a municipality where he no longer had a residence.
“It is impossible for me to continue as mayor into the new year under these circumstances,” he told the small crowd at the Hatley Town Hall on Monday evening.
A member of the audience asked whether he’d considered simply renting a house in Hatley until his term
was up, and he replied that he’d considered this but decided against it. He said it was time for him to move on to his new life in Magog.
In an interview with the Stanstead Journal following the meeting, de Léséleuc maintained that the quick sale of his home had come as a surprise. “When you have a buyer making a good offer you simply can’t refuse it,” he said, shrugging.
He did, however, elaborate on other, perhaps more important reasons he was leaving—reasons he described, vaguely, as “personal.”
The seven-day-a-week work schedule of a mayor, for instance, had simply worn him down after ten years.
“So when I say it’s personal, and has to do with my family, I mean just that,” he said. “The demands of the job have become too much.”
He bemoaned not only the long working hours that mayors suffer, but the inadequate remuneration for their labours. “If you factor in the real number of hours worked a mayor’s salary comes out to about six to seven dollars an hour.”
He hinted that other mayors have lobbied for better wages in the past, or at least for tax concessions from the provincial government that would make their small salaries go further. For example, he suggested the first $10,000 of a mayor’s salary should be tax free.
“No luck with that,” he said, shrugging. And under the new PQ government the situation for mayors wasn’t about to get any better, he hinted.
When asked if there was a maximum number of terms a mayor may serve, he said that at present there wasn’t, but that the Marois government also had plans to change this, limiting a mayor’s time to three terms. Curiously, he was opposed to the idea of a limit on terms, despite that he was presenting himself as a very burnt-out mayor.
When asked if there was a watershed moment during his time as mayor— a proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”— de Léséleuc said that he didn’t think so, but that the summer of 2012 had been difficult, with all the complaints he’d had to field over low water levels on Lake Massawippi.
“What was I supposed to do about it?” he said, exasperrated. “It’s up to Mother Nature, not me.” Still, the irrate phone calls came, all days of the week.
“What did anyone expect? That I’d have the whole municipality over, with a case of beer each, and we’d piss in the lake until the water came up again?”
He flashed a nervous smile. “Don’t put that in your article.”
Leaving his office, he joked about running for mayor in Magog, but when asked if he was serious he shook his head ambiguously and didn’t elaborate.
M. de Léséleuc will con- tinue on as mayor of Hatley until the end of November, after which Council will appoint an interim mayor who will serve until elections can be held in 2013.
Hatley mayor Jacques de Leseleuc is stepping down after ten years of service.