There’s been a rumour circulating around town that I have decided to not seek re-election to municipal council this November. It’s true. I’ve decided not to run for another term.
“And why not?”
Good question. I did intend to be in this for two terms. Here are four things that led to the difficult decision.
My affordable housing consulting business — advising other municipalities facing their own version of Whistler’s affordable housing crunch on options they might consider to deal with it — has taken off. Ironically, it was affordable housing that made me decide to run for council and it’s affordable housing that’s contributing to my decision to move on. The work is challenging and rewarding and, I like to think, tells a good story about how hard Whistler’s worked on this problem and how far we’ve come. It also pays better and no one wants to beat me up over it when I bump into them in the produce section of the grocery store… and of course, I’ll miss that.
Within the next year, my wife Leslee and I will join the ranks of empty nesters. For a couple of years now, we’ve been planning a smaller, dare I say more sustainable, nest on Bowen Island. Over the next several years we’ll be transitioning to becoming islanders, at least part time, a shift that will require increasing time and attention on my part. If we don’t manage this change properly, our daughters may never come home to Bowen.
And as onerous as it sounds, I expect to spend at least some of the time I’d have devoted to memorizing all 600 pages of the typical council information package every two weeks to my second love…. sailing. I’ve been channeling my inner pirate most of my adult life and I see it as playing an increasingly important role in my semi-retirement. Political discourse will take place on deck with suitable beverages in hand.
Finally, I’d like to state unequivocally that I’ve loved being at the council table during this term. We’ve managed to accomplish much of what we set out to do, not the least of which is more affordable housing. I’m proud of and excited about the decisions we’ve made, the deals we’ve struck to ensure the upcoming Olympics will, in fact, leave a lasting, positive legacy behind and, on balance, I believe this has been a tremendously productive council.
Having said that, it’s been difficult dealing with the sometimes very personal and strident criticism directed at this council as a whole and individually. I expect harsh words from the cranks and the terminally discontented, but it’s disheartening when people I know and respect in this community level criticism in a harsh, unhelpful and, hey, let’s call a spade a spade, not entirely informed fashion. When my good friend, G.D. Maxwell, for example, twists what I consider our extraordinary efforts to engage the community in the budget process to a pithy but inane, “Council to Whistler: Screw You!” I can’t help but feel my time would be better spent pursuing other goals. The kind of criticism we’ve all faced seems to generally respond favourably to one-on-one explanations but if there is a better way to respond to the entire segment of the community that’s been dissatisfied with our actions over and over again, I’ll have to leave finding it to whomever comes after me.