...And then she changed her mind. Despite reports to the contrary, including mine, it seems that Maggie Laidlaw will not be riding off into the political sunset at the end of the current term of council. The often controversial Ward 3 councillor had said that she would not be seeking re-election in 2014 after taking into account both her pending retirement from her day job in 2016, as well as her husband's pending retirement from teaching. But it looks like Laidlaw spoke too soon.
Laidlaw sent an e-mail to the Guelph Civic League walking back her intention to retire. In it she says she's been "tossing the idea around for several months" the idea of running for one more term, and a recent Corporate Administration, Finance & Enterprise Committee (CAFE) meeting confirmed the change of mind on the matter of her retirement.
"There are very exciting new initiatives coming 'down the ‘pike' [with regards to] downtown (particularly Baker Street, the library, and other sites), and staff will need some champions around the horseshoe to help bring these initiatives to fruition over the next few years," Laidlaw wrote. "I would like to think that I would be one of those champions, whereas with big investment moneys required, I worry that a 'right-of centre' councillor who may be elected in Ward 3 if I step down would not support visionary initiatives such as these."
Of course, that's what some people were counting on. Laidlaw, long seen as a leader, if not the leader, of council's left flank, is frequently cited as one of the so-called "Gang of 8," a group of councillors supposedly beholden to special interests and progressive causes to the detriment of taxpaying citizens by inflicting higher rates. Regardless, Laidlaw's share of the vote has remained around 27 to 29 per cent since she was first elected in 2000, so the people of Ward 3 must like what she's doing. The real interesting question is what impact Laidlaw's decision might have on those considering a run in Ward 3? It was a race once meant to replace her, but now it means that any new candidates must run against the longest serving councillor.
"No guarantee that I will be re-elected – I guess I will find out at the ballot box!" Laidlaw added at the end of her e-mail.
We'll find out when Guelphites go to the polls on October 27, 2014.