Hat­ley mayor steps down

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Kyl Ch­hat­wall

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.

Photo Kyl Ch­hat­wal

Hat­ley mayor Jac­ques de Le­se­leuc is step­ping down af­ter ten years of ser­vice.

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