“I've held a lot of different titles in my life and I've come to realize the most important father and husband and I need to really just focus on those.”
Truesdale Mayor Chris Watson announced his resignation at the May 24 board of aldermen meeting.
His last board of aldermen meeting will be June 28.
Watson is moving out of Truesdale and into Warren County, necessitating his resignation. He was re-elected as mayor in April.
“I prayed about it before the last election,” Watson said. “Your life changes a lot from the time that you sign up in December till the election in April, and it just came to the point to where it was just, it was a lot going on and I've got to focus back on my family.”
Watson said it was his dedication to his family that also led to his decision.
“I've held a lot of different titles in my life and I've come to realize the most important father and husband and I need to really just focus on those,” he said.
City Clerk Elsa Smith-Fernandez said she is looking into the correct procedure to replace the outgoing mayor.
“I would like to do more research such as reviewing our city ordinance, previous minutes, and contacting the Missouri Municipal League,” she said.
Watson became mayor in 2017 after then-Mayor Murray Bruer died. Watson was president of the board of aldermen at the time.
If Smith-Fernandez’s research leads Truesdale down a similar route, it would make current Board of Alderman President Jerry Cannon the new mayor. Cannon has been board president since April.
“I knew that the chance was there or the possibility was there and I will do what I can for my community,” Cannon said.
Cannon will be a great replacement, current Mayor Watson said.
“Jerry is a very hands-on and, and very community involved with all the residents and everything,” he said. “He's a lifetime resident here in Trusdale, and he has seen the positive and negative, just living just a couple blocks from here.
“He is definitely somebody that would fight for or stand up for any type of injustice that we might have.”
But it’s also hard to step down, Watson said.
“I never really looked at it as a job. I looked at it as being able to be a part of the community,” he said.
He also stressed he’s not really leaving the community even though he will no longer serve as mayor.
“I've already asked Elsa … if there's committees that I could be a part of that isn't an elected official committee or if I can help on any planning or anything like that.”
Watson also leaves a significant legacy as Truesdale prepares for the transition.
Smith-Fernandez said she would “absolutely” miss the mayor.
“Mayor Watson is really great to work with. He's supportive with the employees. He always makes himself available for us if we have questions, if we need guidance, so he's done a phenomenal job.”
Cannon echoed that sentiment, saying Watson has been a “spectacular” mayor for Truesdale.
“When he took over from Murray Bruer after Murray passed away, it was kind of big shoes to fill. Murray had done a lot for our community and then when Chris came in, he hit the ground running with all kinds of different things,” Cannon said. “Very professional, very knowledgeable. I think he's done a great job.”
Watson’s legacy includes the development of Bruer Park and the MaryLou Community Center, two projects that some said were major improvements to the city.
“The park was just in its infancy,” when Watson took over, Cannon said. “The land had just been purchased and so everything that's at the park now, including the MaryLou Center, he's been in the lead.
“I just feel like he's definitely did some major up upgrades for the city,” Public Works Supervisor Mark Bennett said.
Watson credited the aldermen and city staff for many of the achievements that occurred in Truesdale while he was mayor.
“It's been a blessing to be able to be a part of this community and see the amount of growth that has changed in our community,” he said. The positive impacts that the board of aldermen and the staff are able to make with the people, I feel that that's what separates us from other towns is just that we actually, that we care, you know, we care, we, we want to help people.
“I'm just very blessed to be able to give back to my community.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org