Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And he’s outta there!

As mayor Pond packed up his boxes and contemplated where his path lay next, the Daily News provided a pair of retrospective pieces on his time as the city’s Mayor and his achievements and the frustrations that came with his almost ten years of municipal service.
Like a famous crooner from the fifties and sixties, Mayor Herb Pond who watched the new council take office on Monday night did things his way, and as Francis Albert might say, regrets he had a few, but too few to mention…

While the political trail and the lure of a potential candidacy for the provincial Liberals may yet lure him back on local streets and knocking at doors, Wednesday’s paper featured a look at Pond’s past and a glimpse back at his time on council.

Considering the last words we heard from the Mayor about our local Daily were ones of disappointment and regret that they had gone “negative”, perhaps this was the Daily news version of the Going away present.

They offer up two fairly positive reviews, an front page article from Monica Lamb-Yorski and an editorial from Earle Gale, both providing a fairly positive portrait of Pond as the Chief Executive of Rupert Incorporated and a potential candidate for MLA come next May.

Herb Pond reflects on two terms as mayor of Rupert
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Pages one and two

Former mayor Herb Pond said good bye to direct involvement with city politics this week as newly elected mayor Jack Mussallem took up the post.

Saturday afternoon, Pond was cleaning out his office but stopped to talk about his terms as mayor.

"I'm hitting the finish line pretty exhausted," he said.

Pond began as a councillor in 1996, was defeated in the race for mayor in 1999, but returned in 2002 to win the first of two consecutive mayoral terms.

When fall 2008 rolled around, he decided it was time to exit city politics and he chose not to run again.

Starting Dec. 2 he was unemployed but said he is looking forward to being home to support his wife Sandy, an elementary school principal.

He will, however, spend some time exploring options on whether he can become involved in provincial politics.

"I see so much opportunity here but we need to be well connected to government. As much as I tried to do that as mayor it's not the same as being a senior official."

Citing the burden of the $850,000 paid every year by the city to subsidize the airport ferry, Pond also said the North Coast needs help with finding better ways to connect to the airport, Metlakatla and Lax-Kw'alaams.

Better airport service would enable businesses to conduct themselves out of the airport, he argued.

Through his terms as mayor, Pond said he realized the trick, when you are small and poor, is to focus on the things you can improve.

"With Skeena's bankruptcy, we lost two years of total tax revenue for the city," he said.
It was that loss that motivated him to run for mayor in 2002 and six years later he said the new council is inheriting a substantially improved budget sheet.

"It's important to stick to the basics. The stuff if you don't do, no one will, like water, sewer, roads, police, fire protection and recreation."

Pond feels the last council worked really well together.

"The fact you could have had viewpoints from the extreme left to right. but that we were willing to listen and sometimes change minds.

"We had terrific disagreements where people argued positions passionately, yet we'd walk out the door laughing and talking. That's the beauty of local governments - there really isn't room for party politics," he said.

Pond does regret the work that didn't get done because there are so many challenges facing Prince Rupert.

"I spent the first few years learning what arenas might be more productive. A tremendous amount of invitations come to the mayor's office and you could be on the road 365 days a year but it's also important to be here."

Another thing he learned quickly was the power of walking everywhere, a habit he credits to Peter Lester, who served as mayor for 36 years.

"Almost always, people would start with 'I don't want to bother you but ...' I always liked that. I wanted to hear what was good and what was bad."

While cleaning out his office on Saturday, Pond came across a letter he'd received from a citizen a few months into his first term as mayor.

The writer suggested that in light of the city's economic crisis, garbage pick-up be reduced to a two-bag limit, the golf course funding be changed due to financial pressure and the Park Avenue Campground be privatized.

"One, two, three done," said Pond.

Daily News Editorial
Earle Gale
The Daily News
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Pages four and five
Pond takes his place in history

As we say goodbye to Mayor Herb Pond this week and look back today in the Daily News at his two terms in office, it is safe to say he was certainly one of the more charismatic local government leaders in Prince Rupert’s long and eventful history.

And that really is saying something, because we've had our fair share of characters since the city's first municipal election back on May 19,1910.

Back then, it was a battle between William Manson and Alfred Stork.

Stork won, garnering 557 votes and Manson followed him in with a modest 104 votes.

But Manson had his day in the next election, which was held a year later. After becoming our second mayor, he ran for the chance to serve in the legislature in Victoria and was elected Conservative MIA from 1910 to 1917.

Manson Way was named in his honour.

The fact that former mayors went on to become MIAs is one that has been repeated often over the years.

Pond himself is widely believed to be contemplating taking a run at getting himself elected MIA - a subject he has stayed quiet on in public so far. 

It is a route that was taken by Duff Patullo, a man who was first elected alderman back in 1910 and who was elected mayor in 1913. Voters sent him to the legislature in 1917 as a Liberal MLA

Patullo became a cabinet minister and, ultimately, premier of our province between 1933 and 1941.

The Pattullo Bridge, Pattullo Park, and Mount Pattullo are all named after him.

The list of mayors who have served Prince Rupert down the years include Sam Newton, M.P. McCaffery, Thomas McClymont, Harry Rochester, S.P. McMordie, Cyril H. Orme, M.M. Stephens, W.M. Watts, H.M. Daggett, George Rudderham, H.S. Whalen, George Hills, Peter J. Lester, John Kuz, and Don Scott.

Many of those names are still well known to us today, thanks in part to the fact that so many roads, parks and other landmarks have been named after them.

While no mayor can hold a candle to Peter Lester in terms of popularity he was, after all, a mayor for 17 terms and 36 years - many of our past mayors played a huge role in shaping not only our city but the province.

One such person was Nora Arnold, who was on council from 1943 to 1946.

She went on to become the city's first female mayor and held the job from 1947 to 1949.

Arnold was front and centre of many community activities and was named Canada's Woman of the Year in 1948 by the Business and Professional Women's Club.

Now, two-term mayor Herb Pond takes his place alongside those hallowed names from the past.

Pond, who started out as a councillor in 1996, missed out on the mayor's job in 1999, but returned in 2002 to win the first of his terms.

He was our mayor for six years. They were not easy years for our city as we grappled to cope with the loss of the pulp mill and the slow demise of the fishing industry.

But, despite the challenges, they have been truly historic years in which we have greatly expanded Prince Rupert’s cruise connection and built our container port.

People are expecting great things from Prince Rupert in the years ahead and a lot of that success and optimism is down to Pond and his tireless championing of our city. ,

During his tenure, he has been criticized by some for being on the road too much - and attacked by others for not being out of town lobbying for Prince Rupert as often as he should. He will tell you himself it is hard to get the balance right - and you can never please everyone.

Pond was a great listener and always had time for people at events and our on the street. Famously last year, when parents gathered outside city hall to complain about the city's change of heart about public art in the so-called 'banner scandal', Pond was quick to leave the comfort of his office and wade into the middle of the group.

He tried to strike a deal on the sidewalk and when that did not work, he invited everyone into city hall for an impromptu sit-down

Most people left at least feeling like they had been listened to.

But greater than his willingness to listen was Pond’s ability to speak.

He was truly a great orator and invariable spoke off-the-cuff and with no microphone at events.

That ability to think on is feet and be funny while endearing himself to many in the room is still a skill few people have and one that few observers will be surprised to see again – in May when campaigning for the right to sit in Victoria as an MLA is underway.

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