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Politics

‘It was really just a natural fit for me’: Ajax’s longest serving mayor reflects on 23-year leadership run

After more than two decades, a new mayor will be elected next week in Ajax. It's a bittersweet feeling for Steve Parish, who shared some of the ups and downs of his leadership run. Aaron Streck has the story.

Steve Parish has been the mayor of Ajax for the past 23 years.

“It was really just a natural fit for me,” said Steve Parish, Mayor of Ajax.

Politics has always been in his blood.

He followed in his father’s footsteps, and the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

“My father was mayor and I grew up in a household that was just imbued with issues in the town and talk about the town and talk about the town’s history,” said Parish.

READ MORE: Steve Parish, long-time mayor of Ajax, won’t be seeking re-election

Back in April, Parish announced that he wasn’t seeking re-election. He did so in front of family and friends including his dad Bill, who passed away just a few months later, in June.

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Parish says one of his biggest accomplishments as mayor was finishing a project his father started in the 1950s.

“To make the waterfront of Ajax a public open space, a publicly owned, publicly accessible green, so that everyone could enjoy the waterfront that we were blessed with. Completing that project and seeing families, people and groups just enjoying it, it’s a real legacy I think for the town and for myself, for my father and for my family,” Parish said.

During his time, as the longest-serving mayor of Ajax, he has tackled a range of issues head-on.

While he’s proud of his commitment to the environment, and of seeing the town become more diverse, there was one thing weighing on his mind, until a couple weeks ago: the future of Ajax Downs and Casino Ajax.

“It’s something I wanted to see accomplished before I left. I didn’t want to leave with the cloud of that closing. It would be something that would be seen as a failure,” Parish said.

WATCH: Ajax Downs casino to remain open

After being appointed mayor in 1995, for the first time in more than two decades, a new mayor will be elected in Ajax Monday not named Steve Parish. While there will be big shoes to fill, Parish has some advice for the town’s ninth mayor.

“Think of the town first and foremost, think about your vision, think about where you want to get, build the relationships you need to get there, set your course, build on the good things we’ve done in the past, don’t desert them but insert your new priorities,” Parish said.

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While there are a number of things he’s going to miss and some he’s not, Parish says he is ready for the next chapter of his life, and spending more time with his family.