Quoting from my distant musical folky days, ’“Goodbye is too good a word…so I’ll just say fare thee well.”
That Bob Dylan lyric comes from the song “Don’t Think Twice,” something I’ve done many times in recent weeks.
With mixed feelings, I have decided not to run for a third term as Kitchener’s Ward 9 councillor in the October 22 municipal election.
But it’s not because this tired, grumpy old geezer can no longer run. I can still boot an occasional soccer ball with my cool-dude grandson, Avery, or pound the doorsteps with other hopeful election candidates.
I’m leaving because I believe two council terms, adding up to eight years, are enough to learn and get a few issues accomplished. I’m convinced, as difficult as it is to give up the position, anything beyond two terms risks becoming a merely an ego trip in elections made easier by incumbency.
As a former journalist-columnist working as a councillor has been an eye-opening learning experience, allowing me the chance to experience the other side of local issues.
It taught me how vital it is to vote, because your individual ballot makes a difference. I learned this when my darling wife, Sue, dubbed me “the one-vote wonder” when I won my first election by a single vote. I reminded her she had been my campaign manager.
It also showed me how important it is to see more female and young candidates seeking council seats. We need more diversity on council.
I offer heart-felt thanks to all voters who supported me during past years and the scores of people who stop me on the streets, in Victoria Park, at the Kitchener Market, grocery stores, airports and even the occasional Cuban resort to smile, say hello or give me an an earful on important local issues.
I also offer my deepest gratitude to Elizabeth Leacock, the very patient support person in the mayor’s office, who has generously assisted me, and tolerated my appalling high-tech’ ignorance for all those years
Now, as the council carnival is almost over, there is one other, sobering thing I learned — not to get too big for my britches.
I will always remember the time when, feeling a tad self-important, I returned to earth abruptly after bumping into three women in Victoria Park as I hurried to another city-hall meeting.
“Hi there,” one woman hollered loudly before waving, pointing and turning to her friends. “That’s Fred. I vote for him. He’s my Member of Parliament.”