It's been a rollercoaster ride over the past three years for Roger Truelove.
The veteran councillor has been running a 'rainbow' coalition of five parties after the Tories lost control of Swale council. Now he has quit as leader and it's time to spill the beans, right?
We are sitting on a wooden bench surrounded by shrubs in a secluded corner of Stones Nursery in Sheerness. The only interruptions come from curious staff, presumably wondering if we are going to buy the bench.
So, Roger, bet you're glad that's over? It must have been like herding cats?
"Not at all," he says. "It's been stimulating and challenging to make it work but it's been much better than anyone could have imagined.
"By and large, although we are in different parties, we seem to agree on practically everything."
He puts part of the success down to changing the culture of the council. "There was a feeling before that too much power was in the hands of the leader and decisions were determined by just one person," he explained.
"What I've tried to be was a strategic leader but to ensure members of the cabinet all had a clear role to play, bearing in mind some were new to local government and were only elected in 2019. We all had to adjust quickly."
His cabinet included Liberal Democrat Ben J Martin from Faversham in charge of housing; Labour's Angela Harrison from Sheerness looking after health; Tim Valentine (Green) and later Julian Saunders (Labour) both from Faversham in charge of environment; the staunchly independent Monique Bonney from Rodmersham tackling the economy and property portfolio; Richard Palmer (Swale Independents Alliance from Newington, Sittingbourne) in charge of community and deputy leader Mike Baldock, famed for his death hawk hairstyle (Swale Independents Alliance, Borden) looking after planning and internal reform.
Roger's successor was announced at an extraordinary council meeting in Swale House on Wednesday. During our chat beforehand he refused to give away any hints about who it might be.
"They all have their strengths," he ventured. "I shall certainly never complain about any of them in public." In the end, he proposed his deputy, Cllr Mike Baldock.
He also refused to be drawn on his "lows" but rates the revamp of Sittingbourne town centre, the council's leading work on climate change, the launch of an affordable housing property arm and investments in play areas and public toilets as some of his "highs".
He added: "I can work with most people, even our Conservative MP Gordon Henderson who has been my opponent for 30 years. You have your political arguments but to do the best for the area you have to adapt and listen to others.
"I've also tried to involve the Conservative councillors on the council as much as possible although they may dispute that."
Roger's three years in charge have not all been plain sailing.
The coalition took over the Spirit of Sittingbourne town centre redevelopment and stripped it back to basics. It lost a number of high profile planning appeals and ended up paying developers compensation.
It also fell foul of spoof planning decisions when a member of staff emailed results and inappropriate comments to shocked applicants.
For two years it struggled without a chief executive following the death of Mark Radford. And, of course, it had to navigate a little problem of a world pandemic which sent staff back to their homes and closed high streets to traffic.
Roger, originally a Liberal Democrat, was wooed to the Left by former Labour MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey Derek Wyatt who appointed him his press officer.
He has also stood as MP himself for the area twice as a Liberal Democrat.
The former history teacher, 77, moved to Swale with his wife Christine to teach at the Sheppey Comprehensive in the early 1970s under head teacher Cyril Poster after a two-year term in Kenya.
He said: "I had always been interested in politics. When I was 11 I went to public meeting in Woolwich about the Suez Crisis. I was by far the youngest person there.
"When I was at Oxford University I would go home to help the Labour Party. None of my friends at university were Labour supporters!"
He admitted as a young boy staying up all night to listen to the results of the 1955 General Election following the retirement of Winston Churchill. Anthony Eden won it for the Tories beating Clement Attlee. "I was terribly disappointed when Labour lost," he said.
But Roger never joined a political party until 1980 when he signed to the Lib Dems. He explained: "I'd always been Labour but it was in a bit of state at that time and had just elected Michael Foot as leader whereas the Lib Dems had David Steel."
He was with them for 18 years before switching back to Tony Blair's New Labour 20 years ago.
Although stepping down as leader, he will remain in the cabinet in charge of finance and as a councillor representing Homewood until next year.
He admitted: "I never liked being addressed as leader in a deferential way but I did like being leader. I found it very satisfying to be able to do things for the borough. But many of those things are still unfinished. They need to continue."