Powers announces he is leaving municipal politics
By Craig Campbell, News Staff
For the first time in three decades, Dundas voters won’t see the name Russ Powers on a municipal election ballot.
The veteran politician, who was first elected to Dundas town council in 1982 and proceeded to serve most of the next 32 years as town councillor, regional councillor, city councillor and a two-year stint as a Liberal Member of Parliament, announced last week he is retiring from municipal politics and will not run in this fall’s election.
“Since moving to Dundas almost 48 years ago, I’ve become passionate about our community and I know that a worthy candidate will come forward and I am confident that my successor will maintain the best traditions and quality of life that we all strive for,” Powers stated in a letter to Dundas residents.
His letter refers only to retiring from municipal politics, and Powers acknowledged in an interview the door has been left open to the possibility of seeking the federal Liberal nomination in the new riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas next year.
Official word that he will not be a candidate in the 2014 municipal election comes just four months before residents cast their ballots – meaning Valley Town residents could have the first hotly contested race for the local city council seat.
As of Monday, only one candidate – Danya Scime – had registered to run for the Dundas council seat in the October 27 election.
Powers’ official announcement also marks the exit from active political life of a man directly linked to all significant political and community events in Dundas and surrounding area since the 1980s.
Except for a period of less than two years as a Member of Parliament, Powers has been Dundas’ only representative in that chair.
“To make a decision to go in another direction took a lot of soul searching,” Powers said in an interview with the Dundas Star News earlier this week.
”Sometimes you just know when it’s the right time. I believe it’s time for a change.”
Powers turned 65 years old nearly four months ago.
He said he has no plans to move out of the community he has called home since 1966, but suggested trips to warmer climates are likely during cold winter months.
Powers first ran for Dundas town council in 1982 with concerns about improving water management and flood control within the Valley Town.
Back then, Spencer Creek was not yet channelized and flooding was a more common problem than it is today. Powers said it’s still an issue 32 years later, but many improvements have been made.
Among the personal highlights over his local political career are 11 Dundas parks he’s played a part in renewing.
“Whether active or passive, it’s something I believe contributes to an enhanced quality of life in a community,” Powers said.
Improved infrastructure was a focus for Powers – including enhancements to the Dundas Town Hall building and the Dundas Pool. The city’s realization that J.L. Grightmire Arena should stay, and also be renewed, is another highlight for Powers. He said he has been approached by a number of people who said they wouldn’t run against him, but were interested in putting their names forward should he retire.
“I suspect there will be a number of viable people,” Powers said. “And, who knows, I might throw my support for somebody who will maintain what I started and be creative.”
Letter to the community
To my family, loved ones, friends, neighbours, colleagues and all residents of Dundas: after much deliberation over a long — and I do mean lengthy — period of time, I have made a personal decision and wish to share it with you.
After serving, at your pleasure, as your Dundas town councillor, Hamilton - Wentworth Regional councillor and now as your ward councillor on Hamilton city council for more than 27 years and through nine terms of office, I want all of you to be among the first to know that I have decided to retire from municipal political life and will not be a candidate in the Oct. 27 municipal election.
Since moving to Dundas almost 48 years ago, I’ve become passionate about our community and I know that a worthy candidate will come forward and I am confident that my successor will maintain the best traditions and ensure a quality of life that we all want and strive for.
I thank you for the many and varied opportunities that I have experienced and am extremely grateful for your continued support over these many, many years.
Russ Powers, Dundas