Saturday, September 26, 2009

Miller puts family first Tearful mayor announces that he won't run in 2010 municipal election

Mayor David Miller is cashing in his chain for his children.

An emotional Miller announced yesterday he would not run for mayor in the 2010 municipal election -- what would have been his third term in office -- because he wants to spend more time with his wife, Jill Arthur, and their two children, Julia, 14, and Simon, 12.

Miller said he privately made the "difficult" decision shortly after his 2006 mayoral win, because the time demands on him as a councillor, and then moreso as mayor, were keeping him from his family.

"I realized then (in 2006) were I to be re-elected in 2010 and serve until 2014, my daughter would be in university and my son would be about to graduate from high school," he said, adding both his children were born after he was first elected to council in 1994. "This would not allow me ever to have been there for them in the way they deserve."

Miller's announcement yesterday caught many of his colleagues by surprise, but most understand the strain politics puts on families.

Perhaps none better than Councillor Adam Vaughan, whose father was also a city councillor.

"I think David has made the toughest decision, next to running, a politician can make," Vaughan, who has two young children of his own, said. "I can disagree with David whether the Gardiner should be up or down, but I will not disagree with a decision he makes as a parent to spend more time with his family.

"I get that as a kid who never saw his dad in politics, and I get that as a parent who aches every time bedtime passes on your watch and you're at a public meeting."

Councillor Kyle Rae told Miller's wife yesterday, "you've got your husband back.

"And for his kids, they got their dad back," Rae said. "This job is a tough job. It's unrelenting. It's unforgiving, and it does rip apart your family life ... It's not a job forever."

Yesterday, Miller got choked up several times while reading his 20-minute statement. He called his time as mayor, "the greatest honour of my life," and said he had accomplished what he wanted to do as mayor.

Namely, securing billions of dollars for increased public transit, making the city more green, adding 250 police officers since 2006, the city's Streets to Homes program that has found homes for 2,000 once-homeless people, making City Hall and council more accountable, and increasing the ethnic diversity at city agencies, boards, and commissions, among other accomplishments.

Vaughan said Miller's accomplishments would have been "a hell of a platform to run on," and until yesterday, Miller himself had hinted he would seek a third term as mayor, even suggesting earlier this month he looked forward to the campaign as an opportunity to sell his vision and accomplishments.

But, he said yesterday, until he was ready to announce his decision, there was nothing else to tell reporters who kept asking "are you running?"

"Of course, I could only answer yes," he said.

Miller, who has lived in both San Francisco and Britain, was raised by a single mother after his father died while Miller was just a boy.

He was first elected as a city councillor for High Park in 1994, having run and lost as an NDP provincial candidate in 1993, and previously unsuccessfully for council.

In 2003, Miller upset frontrunners Barbara Hall and John Tory and became the second mayor of the newly amalgamated City of Toronto.

In 2006, Miller easily beat councillor Jane Pitfield in the mayoral race, capturing nearly 60% of the votes.


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