Veteran North York councillor calling it quits

Ward 10 another hot race to watch as longtime rep Mike Feldman announces he won’t seek re-election

Ward 10 councillor Mike Feldman made it official over the weekend: after 18 years as municipal politician, he’s moving on.

In a letter Feldman quietly circulated to his constituents, Feldman ended speculation about his fate for the upcoming election by announcing he will not be seeking re-election.

At 82, Feldman is the oldest member of city council. But he doesn’t have plans to slow down once his term in Ward 10 is over. Though he’s not quite sure yet what he’ll do, he said he’s heard some suggestions for boards he could sit on.

And he’d likely be qualified for an awful lot of them at this point.

For an octogenarian with a lifelong commitment to public service, Feldman sees his two-decade-long career in elected office as just another step along the way.

“This, for me, was just a continuation of a lot of volunteer work that I’ve done all my life. Over the last 18 years it’s just been a continuation of that.”

That volunteer work included an unpaid position at the top of the Toronto Housing Corporation where he oversaw the construction of 15,000 units of public housing over a 28-year tenure.

Other than a desire to expand his resumé, Feldman said it was a discouraging term at council these past four years that inspired him to make the move.

“The last four years really haven’t been fun. I’ve got to say that,” said Feldman.

“We became more and more 44 neighbourhoods who happened to be close together. Everybody had their own little fiefdoms. I don’t believe in ward politics that doesn’t think globally. I feel that anything that is good for the city is good for my ward.”

Feldman blames this disconnected, every man-for-himself attitude for a lack of action at city hall. For a councillor who’s been directly involved with the molasses-paced Downsview redevelopment project, the frustrations have been legion.

“They’ve been talking about it since my bar mitzvah,” joked the councillor in June, just before he helped get the first phase passed, finally, in North York Community Council.

The announcement adds Feldman’s name to a lengthy list of incumbents stepping down this election season, ensuring an even greater wash of new faces this October. Currently, there are seven hopefuls running in Ward 10, but Feldman is pushing for his long-time assistant, Nancy Oomen, to run.

Oomen said she is seriously considering it.

“I’ll decide in the next week or two,” she said.

Although Feldman is pushing for Oomen to run and says that he believes she has a good understanding of the ward’s issues, he also said that any first-timers that step into the role of municipal politician likely won’t have a lot of clout on bigger city issues, issues that are close to Feldman’s heart.

“Normally, the first-year councillor has to stay pretty much a ward councillor as opposed to thinking globally,” Feldman said, adding that it will be essential for whoever succeeds him to balance the local ward and local council’s needs with the city’s needs as a whole.

About this article:

By: Christopher Reynolds
Posted: Jul 27 2010 5:12 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto