On a Monday night in May 1992, Tony Pratt and Jim Ford together made their way from Jefferson Avenue to a standing-room only crowd at Lewes City Hall. Both men had just been elected and were ready to begin their terms on city council.
“If we had just stayed home that night, we would've enjoyed on TV Evening Shade, Major Dad, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Northern Exposure and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Pratt said during a speech honoring Ford at the April 14 council meeting.
Pratt served six years on council before moving just outside the city. Ford pushed on, serving on council for 12 years and another 10 years as mayor. He will step down and pass the torch to Mayor-elect Ted Becker Monday, May 19.
“I ran a 10K, but you ran a marathon,” Pratt said. “And good for you for doing that. Congratulations.”
To put into perspective what the world was like in 1992, Pratt rattled off big news items, popular movies and celebrity deaths. The newspaper of the time was The Whale, which, Pratt said, both he and Ford often picked up to see what was being said about them.
“We were subject of and couldn't wait to see the call-in section of the Whale newspaper and 'speak outs' to see what was being said about all the dastardly deeds we were trying to do here,” he said.
The Cape Gazette came into existence in May 1993, and Pratt recited snippets of articles and advertisements – Cliff Diver was offering a Subaru Impreza for $9,995 – to further reinforce just how far Lewes has come since Ford first took office.
“You have been the essence of government, fair and balanced and intellectually driven,” Pratt said.
Also in the audience for Ford's final meeting was former Councilwoman Stephanie Tsantes, who also offered a few kind words.
“You have spent countless nights here when you could have well been with your wife, your family or spending time with your grand baby,” she told Ford. “We are all better for your sacrifice, and I'm sure your family is going to welcome you back.”
James L. Ford III Day
Sunday, May 18, has been dubbed James L. Ford III Day in Lewes. A celebration will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Canalfront Park, where friends, family and colleagues will honor Ford on his final full day as the city's mayor.