Councillor Exit Interview: For Mark Taylor, a promise made is a promise kept

Mark Taylor (centre) accepts a photo from Mayor Jim Watson and city manager Steve Kanellakos as a thank you for his service on council at a ceremony before council on Nov. 28. Christopher Whan / Global News

Mark Taylor is departing council after two terms to keep a long-standing promise not to run more than twice. His reason is simple: he believes others should be given a chance to serve.

Though the new council was officially in place on Dec. 1, the proverbial reins will be passed to the new council on Monday evening and seven new members will be taking their places.

Global News had the opportunity to sit down with Taylor while he and his staff were in the midst of cleaning out his office, to reflect on his eight years on council and to talk about what’s next.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

So what’s next for Mark Taylor?

That’s a great question. I’m going to stay involved in some of the causes that I’ve gotten involved in here at the city. So homelessness, housing, affordable housing, poverty, those kinds of things. In terms of working, I’m actually talking to a couple of organizations right now that are in that space and I’m looking forward to doing something with them. So I haven’t landed on one thing and I may wind up doing a couple of things with a couple of different agencies.

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So looking back on your last eight years what are some of the things you’re most proud of?

It’s interesting, I was actually just thinking about that the other night and there’s a couple of things. There’s this little tiny space where we created a park where there was no park before. It’s in an Ottawa Community Housing neighbourhood and they’ve wanted a park in this space for over 25 years so we got one built. While it is very small and really only impacts that neighbourhood, that was one of the most transformative things for that neighbourhood and those kids that could have ever happened. So while you don’t really see it on a ward-wide basis, that was really important.

On a bigger scale, I’m very proud of the work we did with the NCC negotiating the stage two extension route through my ward. I’m happy with the work that we did with housing city-wide although I still think we have miles to go.

So when you initially ran in 2010 you promised to serve for only two terms. What was the reasoning behind that when you initially ran and why was it so important for you to keep that promise?

A lot of people like to see turnover in their community leadership. I think community leadership is one of those things where everybody should get an opportunity to take the wheel if they want to step up. So often times because of the power of incumbency, unless the incumbent gets out of the way, there’s not an opportunity for a lot of people to come forward. So I thought it was important to come in and do what I had to do. I know that I work best when I have a clock running so I knew I had eight years to get the things done I wanted to get done and then I thought turn it over to somebody else and let them do what they can do.

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As for why I kept the promise, I wanted people to know that I am a person of my word and I believe one of the things people crave in every relationship that they have, particularly with their community leaders and politicians nowadays, is authenticity and truthfulness. So when you say you’re going to do something, and it’s within your power to do it, you should do it.

So you had some political experience before becoming a councillor so you kind of knew what you were getting into but was there anything you didn’t expect about the job?

So certainly you can think you know a lot about the job, but as I think is the case with any elected office, once you’re in it, it’s much different. One of the things that struck me the most was the 24/7 nature of the job. And that really has just evolved over the last eight years. When I ran in 2010, Twitter had really just become popular. Now there’s a 24-hour immediacy that has become present in the job that I didn’t really anticipate in the beginning.

So is this it for Mark Taylor the politician or do you see yourself running again? Will we ever see a Mark Taylor sign on the side of the road again?

You never say never. I may find my way back to politics in the future. I’m not charting any particular course right now. I’m going to take some time to help some people and do a little bit of decompression but I wouldn’t rule out running for something in the future.

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So it’s safe to say you haven’t been soured at all by your time as a councillor?

Even during the tough times and the hard files, there wasn’t a day when I felt like I was going to work. Every day has felt like a gift that the residents gave me and I’ve appreciated it.