Outgoing Pasadena Mayor Bob Mercer will have more time for angling in the future after confirming he wont be seeking re-election next month. Star photo by Gary Kean
Back in July, Bob Mercer said he was 90 per cent sure he would run for a second consecutive term as mayor of Pasadena.
Thursday, the former MHA and provincial cabinet minister who also served as Pasadena's mayor from 1993-96, said he's 100 per cent sure he is retiring from politics.
The change of heart came after a summer of reflection and soul-searching.
One poignant moment came when his youngest daughter gave birth to her second child in St. John's the day before Canada Day. Mercer held off being with her for a few days because of his commitments to Canada Day festivities.
He acknowledged being mayor means one's personal life has to take a backseat sometimes, but said important family moments such as that are impossible to recover.
"After 16 years in different levels of politics, you kind of tend to put things off and move away from doing things you normally would have done," Mercer told The Western Star.
"There comes a time to reconnect with family and the things you used to do and to get on with your own personal life ... I kept coming back to the personal side of things and said 'I don't want to do another four years.' It's time to step aside and let a new council maybe do some of the things I couldn't do."
There are some issues Mercer wanted to put his stamp on and see through, including making a regional recreation centre a reality. Such a centre has been talked about in Pasadena for more than 20 years and Mercer put it back on the town's priority list nearly two years ago.
"Everything in the world has been done except make a decision, build it and move on," he said. "I would have liked to have done that, but that's going to be for another council to get done."
There are many elements of his mayoralty Mercer is proud of, namely maintaining the town's fiscal integrity, updating the town's municipal plan, completing the town's capital works agenda each year and chairing a council that managed to be much less fractious than the one he inherited in 2005.
The next council will have many important decisions to make, according to Mercer.
"We have just been advised by the Municipal Assessment Agency that our household residential assessments will be going up 50 per cent next year," said Mercer. "That is a major increase. In fact, it's one of the largest I've ever heard of in Newfoundland and Labrador."
The decision for council will be whether it will take the extra revenue the assessment hike could fetch the town coffers or if it will reduce the residential mill rate, which currently stands at seven mills, so taxpayers can more easily absorb that blow early in the new year.
A second major issue will be whether or not the town will consider taking over some essential services at Humber Valley Resort, where property owners had to scramble to arrange snowclearing and garbage collection contracts when the resort's owners went bankrupt late last year. Water services will also be an issue at the resort, where the infrastructure may not be built up to the standards of the local municipalities which could help.
All that will be for someone else to decide as Mercer looks at the day calendar he's constantly carried with him for years and wonders how he'll fill up all the suddenly blank spaces. The avid fly fisherman and gardener said, besides more time with family, he will still volunteer as president of the Corner Brook Shrine Club and at his church and still plans to take on the presidency of the Masonic Lodge in Deer Lake in a year or two.
When he left provincial politics after an unsuccessful run at another term as Liberal legislature member for Humber East in 2005, it was the electorate who decided his political fate.
"This time, it's my own decision," he said. "I take comfort knowing there are other people in town who will step forward."
So far, only Deputy Mayor Gary Bishop has put his name forth for the mayor's chair in next month's municipal election in Pasadena. The deadline for nominations in Pasadena is Sept. 8.