Oldsmar City Council members bid emotional farewell to Linda Norris

Fellow Oldsmar City Council members bid an emotional farewell last week to Linda Norris, who has termed out of office after six years of serving the city.

Linda Norris gets emotional after her fellow Oldsmar City Council members bid her a fond farewell last Tuesday. Norris terms out of office this month following six years on the council.

Linda Norris gets emotional after her fellow Oldsmar City Council members bid her farewell last Tuesday. Norris terms out of office later this month after serving six years on the council.

If you’ve ever met Linda Norris, you probably know she is an emotional person who isn’t shy about wearing her heart on her sleeve.

Oftentimes during her two terms serving on Oldsmar’s City Council, those emotions have been on full display, as the outspoken redhead has been known to spill a few tears when it comes to discussing issues she is passionate about.

In fact, Norris has teared up so often over the past six years, Mayor Doug Bevis once suggested she should have a sponsorship from Kleenex.

Last week, Norris’ tears were flowing freely once again, but they weren’t caused by an agenda item discussion, receiving recognition for her work, or from hearing a resident’s story that touched her heart.

Linda Norris got teary-eyed during her final City Council meeting on March 1, 2015.

Linda Norris got teary-eyed during her final City Council meeting on March 1, 2015.

No, the reason for the waterworks was deeper, as Norris’ fellow lawmakers bid her farewell with a video tribute and heartfelt comments at the conclusion of her final city council meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

“I said I wasn’t going to cry,” Norris, whose term limits expire after the upcoming Oldsmar municipal election on March 15, said while wiping away tears after watching the video.

“I hope that mascara’s waterproof!” Mayor Bevis quickly replied.

In paying tribute to their departing colleague, the other council members spoke glowingly of Norris and the effect she had on everyone she worked with.

Oldsmar City Council member Eric Seidel.

Oldsmar City Council member Eric Seidel.

“Linda, you and I joke about this all the time, but if you’re…looking up here, it’s kind of funny how you are on the far left, and I am on the far right,” Council member Eric Seidel said, eliciting tears—of laughter this time—from Norris.

“And yet, I will say that I have learned a great deal from you, and I’ve always respected your opinion,” he added. “I always appreciated your approach, and your leadership. It has truly been a good thing for the City of Oldsmar, and I’m going to miss that a great deal.”

As Norris doubled-down on the tissues, the other council members weighed in.

“Linda, I just want to say, thank you for everything you’ve done for me over the last 14-15 months since I’ve been on City Council,” Dan Saracki, who was recently automatically reelected to his seat, said. “I really do appreciate you being a force in helping me learn how to be on this seat…and I wish you all the luck in the future.”

“Linda, you know I’ll miss you,” Vice-Mayor Gabby McGee said. “You were extremely helpful to me when I was considering running for council…inspiring me to run…and I’ll never forget when I was elected and Janice Miller was on the council, having that female majority. I loved being part of that with you.”

Vice Mayor Gabby McGee talks about the impact Linda Norris had on her council career during Norris' final council meeting last Tuesday night.

Vice Mayor Gabby McGee talks about the impact Linda Norris had on her during Norris’ final council meeting last Tuesday night.

When it was Bevis’ turn to speak, the mayor, who has served on the council during Norris’ entire tenure, put the funny comments aside and spoke from the heart.

“We talk about this all the time, about other municipalities and their councils and their ability to get things done, and I think it’s because of the makeup of everybody on here, and Linda, you’re certainly a part of that, really getting us off zero with the art project,” the mayor said. “That was huge.”

“Thank you for everything that you’ve done. I know you are going to continue to serve the city well.”

After the tributes, Mayor Bevis handed Norris the gavel and instructed her to close out her final meeting, but not before she had an opportunity to respond to her colleagues’ remarks.

Linda Norris drooped the gavel on her final Oldsmar City Council meeting on March 1, 2016. Norris terms out of office this month after six years.

Linda Norris dropped the gavel on her final Oldsmar City Council meeting on March 1.

“I promised myself I wasn’t going to cry, because it’s really not going to be over until the 22nd after either Becky or Jerry gets sworn in,” Norris said, tear-free at this point. “But you guys are really wanting to make me cry.”

“But to reflect on my time on the council, it’s been six years, and it all started with a trip to my neighbor, and my honorary step daddy, Jerry Beverland’s house,” she continued. “He said Linda, if you think you can do good for the citizens of Oldsmar, you run…and so because of you, Jerry, I ran. And it’s been an honor.”

“I haven’t been perfect. I’ve had my some ups and downs. I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I don’t hide things. But it’s been six years that has changed my life.”

“During the time I’ve been on council…I’ve lost people in my family…but I get calls…and I get people care about me and people lift me up when I’m down. It’s like, I might be losing family members, but I have an entire city that’s my family. And that lifts me up. And I really appreciate that.”

An image that was shown during a clip of highlights of Linda Norris' council career.

An image that was shown last Tuesday night during a clip of highlights of Linda Norris’ council career.

Norris said she plans to stay fully involved in the community, by working on the city’s first public art project that she helped will into existence,  joining the Leisure Services board, continuing to serve on the board of the North Pinellas Cultural Alliance, and joining Congressman Gus Bilarakis’s committee to help veterans with PTSD. And she hasn’t ruled out a return to office.

“And I’m getting a personal trainer!” she declared.

After making closing remarks thanking her coworkers, Norris proclaimed, “Look, I’m not crying!”

Then the mayor cued up the video containing memorable moments from Norris’ two terms in office.

And someone quickly passed the Kleenex.

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