Outgoing Kingston, Ont. city councillors reflect on time in office

Almost half of Kingston's incumbent councillors aren't running this time around for city council. We speak with some of the outgoing politicians about their time in office.

Kingston city councillors that served from 2018 to 2022 faced a term like no other council has experienced, featuring the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing drug poisoning and housing crises.

Gearing up for Monday’s municipal election, half of the current councillors will not be seeking re-election.

“I was fortunate in the last four years that I worked on two jobs that I’m really passionate about, but it really lead to a life that had no balance,” says outgoing city councillor Bridget Doherty.

For many councillors, the workload alongside other jobs and responsibilities proves difficult.

“It’s going to be hard not to continue in that role, it was a big part of my life, it’s a 24/7 job,” says Mary Rita Holland.

Holland is ending her time as councillor after eight years in office.

“You certainly feel the responsibility and you feel the honour, you know, all the time,” she says. “So, I’ll be sad but I’ll be glad to have some of that time back as well.”

Among those no longer seeking a seat around the horseshoe is Jim Neill.

After 18 years as a city councillor, now fully retired from teaching, Neill plans to travel.

“Being on city council is a full-time part-time job so, it’s just about impossible to work in travel with that. So, that was my primary reason,” Neill says. “And I think it’s time for more fresh faces on council, and more women on council as well.”

Neill isn’t moving too far away from politics, as he is running as a Williamsville candidate for Limestone District School Board trustee.

Doherty, Holland and Neill are joined by Simon Chapelle, Robert Kiley and Rob Hutchison in not running for another term, but remain proud of their achievements.

“A lot of great work actually continued, and that was a collaborative effort between all councillors, city staff and it took a lot to keep moving during the pandemic, but we managed to do it,” says Doherty.

For Doherty, she says she will continue advocating for policy that addresses climate change, housing and anti-racism work, only now from outside of the council chambers.

“I’m really proud of the working relationships we had as a council,” says Holland. “I think we worked well together, I think we were very productive and cooperative and we knew when the public wanted us to go in a certain direction and we worked to find a way forward.”

Holland says, for now, she is going to focus on using her background in health policy to teach, but still holds an interest in provincial politics.

As for advice from the outgoing councillors to the incoming, Doherty says, “listen to each other, be respectful and work as a team. Because that’s how you get much more done.”

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