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Uxbridge honours a former mayor and regional chair with the renaming of the local children's library

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

UXBRIDGE: Former Uxbridge Mayor and Durham Regional Chair Gerri Lynn O'Connor was awarded a surprise honour at an event, at the Uxbridge Public Library, on Wednesday, January 11th.

At the event, it was announced the children's library, located on the lower level of the facility, would be renamed the 'Gerri Lynn O'Connor Children's Library.'

"I'm very pleased to be able to recognize and thank Gerri Lynn O'Connor for her amazing 34 years of public service and dedication to our community," Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton said, in a statement. "Gerri Lynn was, and remains, a fierce advocate for the Township of Uxbridge, the Region of Durham and local conservation efforts. The newly named Gerri Lynn O'Connor Children's Library is a testament to her many years of public service and her ongoing support of the library, youth and seniors in our community."

Speaking at a podium, in front of family members, former colleagues, current council members, dignitaries, and local media members, Ms. O'Connor said this may have been the first time she was truly speechless.

"This day will probably go down as one of my favourite days," she stated.

Ms. O'Connor was first elected, as Uxbridge's Ward 5 Councillor, in 1980 and then became the Regional Councillor in 1983. She was acclaimed as Mayor in 1985, becoming the first female Mayor in Durham Region, and served as Mayor until 2006, when she took a break to focus on her family. She was elected as Mayor again in 2010 and then again in 2014, before finishing her political career as Durham's appointed Regional Chair in 2018, following the death of Roger Anderson. In total, she served as Mayor for 29 years and as a member of the Regional Council for 31 years. However, Ms. O'Connor noted, she made sacrifices to serve the Uxbridge community. "Being on council for as many years as I was, I missed many birthdays and many celebrations with my kids because I put my work ahead of them at times."

Durham's current Regional Chair, John Henry, complimented Ms. O'Connor's legacy.

"As a leader and a volunteer, you have proven your ability as a positive role model for our community," he said. "We are proud of the work you have done to advance our community for many years. Thank you for your dedication, your hard work, [and] your wisdom."

Ms. O'Connor's former council colleague, Pat Molloy, told the crowd he "learned so much and [has] so much respect for Ms. O'Connor."

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