Before getting down to business Monday night, Mayor Bill Bell and City Council members honored outgoing Councilman Farad Ali.
Bell remarked on Ali's sense of humor and "booming voice" that "added levity to the council at very important times." To which Ali (right) responded,
"Can I leave now?"
Ali, after serving one four-year term, opted not to run for re-election this year. Just-elected Councilman Steve Schewel took over Ali's accustomed seat between Councilwoman Diane Catotti and City Attorney Patrick Baker.
For his part, Ali remarked on his council colleagues' qualities and quirks: Cora Cole-McFadden's concern for children; Catotti's thorough preparation; Mike Woodard's seeming omnipresence; Eugene Brown for "always showing me there's an argument to an argument."
Howard Clement, whom Ali called the council's "dean" – having held his seat since 1983 – missed the meeting. As for Bell, Ali said, "We didn't always know where he was coming from because we always thought he was playing poker."
Wrapping up, he said, "God bless America, God bless Durham and God bless you, Steve Schewel!"