One of London’s longest-serving city councillors won’t be on the ballot when Londoners go to the polls next year.
Ward 8 Coun. Paul Hubert, who is also London’s deputy mayor, told AM980’s Mike Stubbs on Thursday afternoon he won’t run for re-election in 2018.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘retirement,’ because that makes me sound like I’m old,” Hubert said. “I’m going to curtail my activities back to what I refer to as my day job, and not my night job.”
Of his workload, Hubert said he tends to constituent requests and complaints, and serves on several community boards, including the tourism board of directors and the London Convention Centre board.
“And then we have our work at council,” he continued. “I sit on the civic works committee and I chair the corporate services committee, I chair the audit committee — there’s a lot of committee work behind the scenes of reviewing policies, reviewing staff reports, and sometimes the reading on that can be anywhere from 400 to 800 pages on a weekly basis.”
Hubert was first elected to London City Council in 2006 and now finds himself as the city’s third-longest serving councillor at 11 years, behind only Ward 2 Coun. Bill Armstrong (20 years) and Ward 12 Coun. Harold Usher (17 years).
Hubert has gone from winning a seat in Ward 8 in 2006 by only 23 votes, narrowly defeating Josh Morgan (who was eventually elected in Ward 7 in 2014), to winning re-election in 2010 with 71 per cent of the vote and again in 2014 with 83 per cent support.
The long-time councillor is one of the few from the so-called “worst council ever” to survive the purge that occurred in 2014 that saw 11 new members join the horseshoe at London city hall.
London City Council between 2010 to 2014 earned the unflattering nickname as a result of their infighting, highlighted by a string of 8-7 votes and Joe Fontana’s legal troubles.
“Those days are gone, and we moved forward, and the council moved forward, and I’ve seen Joe a number of times since that time, and we wish each other well and think of each other,” Hubert said. “We all make mistakes, and I think we always need to have a spirit of reconciliation and we let bygones be bygones and move forward. We can’t stay locked or trapped in past history.”
Hubert is also the executive director of Pathways Skill Development & Placement Centre.
Hubert is the second current member of council to announce they are stepping away from municipal politics. Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park announced last month she would seek the nomination in London North Centre for the provincial NDP.
Mayor Matt Brown has said he will run for re-election next year. Brown will be challenged by Paul Cheng, who finished second to Brown in the 2014 race and by political newcomer Paul Paolatto, who resigned from the London Police Services Board in March.
Mayor Matt Brown named Hubert his deputy mayor soon after he took office in late 2014. London City Council later voted to make Ward 5 Coun. Maureen Cassidy the city’s second deputy mayor, a role she would eventually resign from following an affair between Brown and Cassidy that rocked London politics in the summer of 2016.
Hubert assumed the role of acting mayor for a short period of time while both Brown and Cassidy took a leave of absence. Hubert has stayed on as deputy mayor after city council decided to switch from a two-deputy mayor system to a one-deputy mayor system.
That wasn’t the first time Hubert has played a calming role during a turbulent time in London politics. He called on former mayor Joe Fontana to step aside while the RCMP investigated fraud charges against the longtime city politician. Fontana would later be convicted of defrauding taxpayers and was sentenced to four months house arrest and 18 months probation.
Fontana resigned as London’s mayor on June 16, 20, 4 and was replaced by former councillor Joni Baechler, who didn’t run for re-election in 2014.
The next municipal election won’t be held until Oct. 22, 2018. London decided earlier this year to become the first municipality in Canada to use a ranked ballot for the election.