The agenda for Wednesday’s Key West City Commission meeting: skimpy. The items did not fill two pages, but observers witnessed emotions as thick as a stack of pancakes at Azur. Their leader, Mayor Morgan McPherson, is wrapping up two consecutive terms on the dais as the city prepares for the Craig Cates era.
Morgan McPherson will be a man who took undeniable pride in his city – in every aspect, at every event. A passion and commitment noted by his trusted colleagues and wife on Wednesday evening at Old City Hall.
“I’m going to lead the pledge with my daughter.”
With a lump in his throat, Mayor McPherson had his 11-year old daughter, Shiloh, join him at the podium to lead the Pledge of Allegiance before an audience at Old City Hall. With her dark her tied in a ponytail she undertook the role with pride. As expected, the Pledge was a routine never taken lightly by McPherson.
He once said, months ago, during debate over elongating the mayoral term from two to four years, “He who is mayor, even gets to lead the pledge.”
After passing the resolutions with the vigor in which Mayor McPherson undertook his duties came to light via his wife, Christina, during citizen comments.
“Whole-heartedly he accepted and fulfilled his roll as a community servant,” she said with a silk, black and white dress flowing around her petite frame.
She highlighted the hardship he faced immediately after taking office: rebuilding after Hurricane Wilma, “He worked countless hours to restore the city with the help of an entire community’s efforts. I still give him a hard time that ours was the last house to get our carpet removed.”
The commissioners joined Christina in commending him.
“You kept us on task,” Commissioner Teri Johnston took her turn through the floodgates.
“You are truly a man of your commitments.”
Commissioner Clayton Lopez, who was successful in retaining his seat in District VI didn’t spare his sentiments. “My brother…umm, I don’t have any words for you man. There’s nothing I can say other than, ‘I love you.’ You’ve written your chapter in this history book. I’ve loved you since I met you right from the start and nothing’s changed.”
Also, choked up, the dais’ token “Teddy Bear,” Commissioner Mark Rossi, who acknowledged and thanked the entire McPherson family before stating what pleasure he had sitting next to his buddy.
“I love you. You’re like a brother.”
Commissioner Barry Gibson noted what a “true ambassador” he has been for the city, and his family’s sacrifice “admirable,” before reminding us the Mayor’s affection for wigs and panty-hose.
“Hell, he’s even dresses in drag!”
But, more Gibson importantly, touched upon the relationships Morgan had built in Tallahassee, Washington, and locally.
“A lot of people have criticized your for that. A lot of people want to condemn you for that. But, you put this city ahead of a lot of things and people really don’t understand the amount of work you put in.”
The humbled mayor could only say he was grateful to be surrounded by such supportive colleagues and staff, and for his time spent serving the city.
“When I started this job, I had no idea what I was getting into. It took some time, but our staff is incredible. There isn’t a department out there that doesn’t have some incredible people serving Key West.”
As smooth as his sport coat and business shirt, his signature meeting attire that had brought order and professionalism to the dais, Mayor Morgan McPherson adjourned his last meeting.
Again his wife Christine: “The heart of this man was public service. A commitment and the desire for the youth to be able to reside in this city for years to come. Many may not agree with the votes and the decisions he made over the last four years, but the dedication and commitment to lead by service cannot be questioned.”
Craig Cates will be sworn into office Tuesday, October 13.
Mayor McPherson’s shares a firm handshake from Key West City Manager Jim Scholl as District VI Commissioner Lopez looks on. Lopez serenaded McPherson with Boyz II Men. It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday was belted out at Old City Hall, and didn’t leave a dry eye in the crowd.
Mayor Morgan McPherson leads his last Pledge of Allegiance before the dais with his 11-year old daughter, Shiloh. His wife, Christina and brother Ben look on. Photo courtesy: Alyson Crean