'Dreams, they really do come true,' Councilwoman Joyce Cusack said.
The Volusia County Council said goodbye to its two outgoing members — At-Large Representative Joyce Cusack and District 1's Pat Patterson — with heartfelt anecdotes, jokes and commemoration of their years in office during the council's meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
“To all things, there is a season," Cusack said. "The time has come that I close this chapter on my journey.”
County Council Chair Ed Kelley presented both Cusack and Patterson with memorial plaques after county staff members, the council and several members of the public spoke. The chambers were flooded with Cusack's family and friends, including her daughters, sorority sisters and her best friend since Kindergaten. She introduced all of them to council individually after a video celebrating her years in public office; the county also made a video for Patterson, but he chose to view it later with his wife, who was unable to come to the meeting.
Cusack served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to2008, and Patterson served from 1998 to 2000 and then from 2002 to 2010. Cusack was elected to the County Council in 2011. Patterson was first elected in 1995, and later in 2013.
Interim County Manager George Recktenwald said that when he thinks of Patterson, the words "statesman" and "professional" come to mind. For Cusack, he thinks "class and inspiration." County Chief Financial Officer Donna de Peyster said she believes their journey doesn't end here, and that both will stay involved in the community.
"I don't know two people who have enriched this council and have enriched this community as much as you two have," de Peyster said.
Councilwoman Billie Wheeler said "people have it wrong" in that they don't see all the things Cusack and Patterson have accomplished behind-the-scenes in the community. She also thanked Cusack for being there for her while she grieved the death of her husband.
“I can’t tell you how much I respect you, and I love you," Wheeler said. "And we know how hard it is to serve, sometimes ungrateful people, but we know that we were here for a reason."
That reason is seeing the good in people and wanting to serve them, she explained.
Councilwoman Deb Denys said that what the council is losing with their departure is institutional knowledge. She also said that what they all do is about leadership and integrity.
“We are losing two great sources of wisdom and knowledge," Councilman Fred Lowry said.
Councilwoman Heather Post said she admires how Cusack stands by her conviction and for people who have no voice. She said she also took note of what Patterson did behind-the-scenes, and that both are things she wishes to emulate in her own service.
"They both serve, and have served, for the right reasons that I think people should serve in elected office," Kelley said. "And that is to serve, not to try to be somebody. We all are somebody to start with."
Cusack and Patterson have served together for close to 12 years, combined with their time in Legislature. Patterson compared serving in politics to flying an airplane.
"You have hours and hours of boredoms interspersed with moments of sheer terror," he said.
Cusack said it has been a pleasure to serve with the rest of the council members, and that it was been a positive experience.
“Dreams, they really do come true," Cusack said.