Councillor Michael Walker considers retiring

Veteran politician unsure about running again
Other candidates declare intentions for 2010 election
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written Oct. 7 for Town Crier.)

Councillor Michael Walker is still deciding if he’ll run in next year’s election. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Rumours are swirling that St. Paul’s councillor Michael Walker will retire next year.
The veteran councillor sat down for an interview in the Town Crier’s city hall office to discuss his political plans on Oct. 6, the same day as Josh Matlow announced that he would run in Walker’s ward.
Walker admitted he’s contemplating retirement rather than running for another four-year term.
“My heart says I should run, but again is it my time to go?” says Walker, who is now in his 27th year in political office. “Is it time to pass the torch?
“I have given it a lot of thought in the past few years because it’s been disillusioning here,” adds Walker, a vocal critic of the mayor. “If you weren’t with (Miller) you were trampled on.
But he admits time is catching up with him.

“At my age do I want to go through another four years of being knocked down and on the defensive?” Walker asks.
But the announcement by Mayor David Miller that he won’t seek re-election may reinvigorate his desire to run again.
“It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s like a new beginning. So I am very much tempted to run again. But I seriously have considered on and off not running.”
When talk turns to the importance of consulting the community and working with the public on issues, this is when it’s clear Walker still has some political fire.
“I am very much driven by the best interests of ward,” he says. “We will have lots of change around Yonge and Eglinton, Bayview, Mt. Pleasant and Avenue Road.
“We have (development) pressure everywhere. We will have change. Residents in our area accept change but they want them to be good changes. They want to be a key player in directing those changes.”
Walker is certainly conscious that others will run in the ward either against him or in his place if he retires.
“If I don’t (run) there will be a lot of people running.”
He rhymes off a series of names of people he’s heard may run including Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy, three time St. Paul’s NDP provincial candidate Julian Heller, public school trustee Josh Matlow, community activist Michael Visser and former councillors John Adams and Rob Davis.
Walker’s assistant Chris Sellors is also rumored to be on that list. Sellors has said he’s supporting his boss and would only consider a run if Walker was not in the race.
As for his own future Walker isn’t ruling anything out yet.
“I’m still on the fence,” he says. “I hope to make a decision in the new year.”

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