Text of my speech is as follows announcing that I will not re-run this fall.
Today, serving you from this spot along the river, I would like to share with you my plans for the fall of 2017 municipal election, and before I get to that, I would like to share some precursor thoughts.
First of all, one of life’s greatest gifts beyond parenting a child, is to be given the opportunity to work hard at work worth doing, and the last nearly 13 years has been just that serving on Council. You just have to find out who you are and then do it on purpose.
As I reflect on the almost 13 years, and what lays ahead, it satisfies me to know that important work has been done by the City, staff and the Councils. It motivates me knowing that important work is forthcoming.
As I write this, St. Albert is known as arguably the safest urban in Alberta, and in recent years has regularly been acknowledged as one of, if not the best place to live in Canada, the best place to raise a family and recognized often as one of the safest Canadian cities, one of the best places to invest … and the list goes on.
Financially, we have seen several years of very modest tax increases and even a decrease one year, and our financial health, measured by reserves and debt status is amongst the top 2 to 3 of all urbans in Alberta, and arguably # 1. The City, community, and corporation are in a sparkling place.
The corporation itself is served by 625 employees and 60 RCMP members. Their work ethic is remarkably strong, their service to others is as good as any organization, private or public. Their quality and quantity of service helps this community be the best it can be, and for that, we must all be grateful. I have always been extremely proud of what I have experienced with all City staff and I am delighted with their excellence.
This community has within it about 100 not for profits; the community has about 25 churches and 30 schools. These organizations bring the most remarkable balance amongst the needs of education, culture, faith, social, recreation, health, business and sport. Having the opportunity to interface with each and every one of these organizations, has been perhaps my greatest pleasure and indeed learning; seeing just how significant these sectors contribute to our community. These organizations’ love of youth, seniors and family has been unwavering and appreciated dearly.
The non-residential sector, mostly represented by businesses is also strengthening, as the trend toward improving our non-residential tax assessment compared to our residential is becoming stronger. Not long ago, that split was 91% residential to 9% non residential and today it is closer to 85-15 and nudging ever so closer to a once thought elusive 80-20.
That Economic-Development-related goal reminds me of the Latin line on the City’s emblem… In Omnibus Respice Finem”, meaning “in everything you do, look to the end”.
When I first began serving the community on Council, Ray Gibbon Drive did not exist, nor did Servus Place, the Grain Elevator Park, or Riel Recreation Park in their current forms. Today we are fortunate that they all exist.
The greatest use of life is to leave a legacy that outlasts us as individuals. While I have helped that as a father, a businessperson and as a coach, I am also very proud to have teamed up with several Councils who have helped the community do that for and with our community.
The community still has needs for additional gathering and community-building locations, requiring another arena, aquatics facility, a gymnastics facility, expanded heritage sites, a bigger museum and library programming space. The next Council must step up and deliver on some of these needs.
Now, a few personal thoughts:
Everyone, I love what I do, and of the 20 Mayors who served before me, only Richard Fowler, Bill Veness and Michael Hogan were provided the opportunity to serve this community as Mayor longer than me. That is remarkable company that I am humbled by.
Now unless one has served as Mayor, one never really understands the specific and the unique challenges that a Mayor has or faces. It is intimate knowledge and experience reserved for few. The tremendous emotional, physical, mental and family demands are far different than that of a Councillor, remarkably different than what staff or the broad community will ever understand it to be. As Mayor, you actually even must grow in kindness because that same kindness is regularly tested. But the unique challenges at the same time are also the same pleasures that comes with servant leadership.
I chose community safety, wellness, neighbourhood development, youth development and not for profit development as my Social Policy platform for 13 years.
I chose business attraction through corporate and community branding and image enhancement as my Economic Development Policy.
And, I chose the river valley, trees and the waste streams as a focus for my Environment Policy.
Staying personal, I have told St. Albert residents that I would not falter and I have not; serving with sincerity, serenity, integrity and hard work. I have served my duty as a leader and I have not served as a performer playing to any gallery.
I have worked to give correction without resentment when needed and I also have worked to see the sameness – in beggar and in queen; in child and in king.
I have stuck to my values, even while being tested, since as we know, if you don’t, they are not values, they are just hobbies.
So as you wonder what my decision is, my decision is driven by the desire to have one more career stint; a stint that would involve the toughest challenge possible.
I don’t know exactly what that next will be, but faith and planning will point to that in due course. I will share more on that in the coming weeks.
So…running for Mayor in 2017 would require such an unusual set of circumstances that it will be very unlikely and as such I will not be planning to run.
It has been said that one should leave the stage while the crowd is still clapping and while I am not certain if indeed the crowd is still clapping, I know it is my time to leave this stage. There is something to be said about choosing the time.
I still plan to be in early tomorrow morning; as early as always. My parents raised me on a farm and we were poor and worked very hard. I owe it to my parents, to my entire family, to the community and to anyone who has little, to continue to serve. I owe it to continue to serve until the last moment that I am capable of. Most know, I have been all in, serving early and serving late and I continue to be all in.
My deepest and sincerest of appreciation and thank you to anyone and everyone who helps build this community in every which way possible.
In closing, a former United Nations Secretary used this brief prayer once which is profound in its meaning and yet its profound in its simplicity”
“Night is drawing nigh
For all that has been – thanks
For all that shall be – Yes”
For all that has been – thanks
For all that shall be – Yes”
Thank you all