London’s second longest-serving councillor has announced he won’t seek re-election this October.
Ward 12 Coun. Harold Usher, 78, announced near the end of Tuesday night’s council meeting he won’t seek re-election.
“I have decided I will not be campaigning in the next election, I’m going to step aside,” he said. “I want you all to know that I will not be contesting the next election, this is my last year.”
Usher has been on city council since 2000. Now in his fifth term, he narrowly won re-election 2014, winning the race by 304 votes. He was one of four members of the previous council be re-elected as London voters angrily swept the so-called “Fontana 8” out of power.
The voting bloc led by former Mayor Joe Fontana came to define the previous council, sparking fierce divisions on council. While Usher sometimes voted with Fontana’s group, he was able to narrowly survive.
Usher’s survival instincts have been on display both at London City Hall and out of it. He is a prostate cancer, colon cancer and heart attack survivor.
His battle with prostate cancer led him to co-author a book with renowned Canadian urologist, Dr. Joseph Chin, “PROSTATE! PROSTATE! PROSTATE! A Problem of Men.” In the book, he encourages men to see their doctor for regular checkups.
The veteran councillor is best known for saying he’s “sensational” and telling people to have a “sensational day” at the end of a conversation.
Usher was the only visible minority on London city council until the election of Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih in 2014. Usher has encouraged minorities and women to run for civic office and says that message is behind his decision not to seek re-election now.
“Most of you know that ever since I’ve been on council I’ve been encouraging diversity and over the past two years I’ve been trying to encourage women to get involved in politics, particularly racialized women,” he said.
Usher made the decision not to run again after attending a weekend workshop aimed at helping women prepare to run for political office.
The municipal election will be held Oct. 22. Candidates can’t officially enter the race until May 1.
When Londoners go to the polls this fall, they will be the first in Canada to use ranked ballots to decide the makeup of city council.