Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cynthia P. Coad marked her last public meeting Tuesday, bidding farewell to colleagues and offering a musical salute to her husband and close aide, Tom.
Coad, 69, said she was sad to be leaving but was proud of her four years on the board.
"The separation is painful," she said. "But I leave with my integrity intact, my ethics uncompromised and my dignity undiminished."
Coad, a former community college trustee and self-help book author, took her seat on the board in January 1999. She emerged as a strong backer of plans to build an airport at the closed El Toro Marine Corps base.
But voters in March decided that a park, not an airport, should be built at El Toro. In that same election, Coad lost her reelection bid in a bitter race against Fullerton Councilman Chris Norby, who opposed the airport.
Coad's colleagues Tuesday praised her work on behalf of children, drug-addicted mothers and foster kids, and her representation of the sometimes-forgotten unincorporated areas. Supervisor Chuck Smith said Coad was one of the hardest-working supervisors.
Coad said she was an "ordinary grandmother" who wanted to give something to her community. "I demonstrated that a strong, family-oriented woman can still mean business," she said.
To the strains of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man," Coad thanked her husband, who served as her unpaid advisor. "Tom, I want to publicly thank you for all of your hard work," she said. "I love you more than ever, and we are a team."
Coad also took a few last jabs, criticizing the "Machiavellian methods" Norby used to defeat her in the March election and the "theatrical prosecutorial rhetoric" of newly sworn-in Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, whose early resignation from the board cost Coad's husband an opportunity to run for the vacant seat.
She told her colleagues that there would be many challenges ahead of them but that they would be resolved if they acted with "constructive criticism, an open dialogue and unselfish desires."