A long-time councillor will not run for re-election in this year’s municipal election.
Coun. Dean Murduck said personal and professionals reasons are behind his decision not seek a fourth term on council. Saanich residents elect a mayor and eight councillors on Oct. 20.
Murdock said in a statement sent to media and posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon that he did not make this decision easily. He said in talking to friends and family that the decision of whether to run for another term came down to one question: if he were not already serving on council, would he run for it now?
“The answer was a resounding ‘No’ for a number of reasons,” he said. “I have two wonderful children, who will turn [nine] and [six years] this year. I’ve have been [councillor] their entire lives, and I’ve missed a lot of bedtimes and family dinners to attend meetings and community events. In my professional life I have a job I love, focused on a subject matter I care about deeply.”
Murdock has worked for 12 years at the provincial Ministry of Health, where he currently manages the Healthy Communities portfolio.
First elected to council in 2008 with 9,079 votes, Murdock won re-election in 2011 and 2014, with 11,899 and 14,781 votes respectively. In short, his vote total increased each time out, and Murdock won the most votes of all candidates, whether they were running for mayor or councillor in 2014.
Over the years, he has been a vocal supporter of environmental causes, and alternative forms of transportation. Most recently, he voted against the rescinding of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw.
Murdock’s announcement means at least two new faces around Saanich’s council table as Coun. Fred Haynes has challenged incumbent Mayor Richard Atwell.
Murdock’s announcement did not necessarily come as a suprise. He had said earlier this year that he was still deciding, and Murdock said in his statement that he had received encouragement to run again for councillor or considering running for mayor.
“I can understand that my decision may come as a surprise or even disappointment to them,” he said. “A few years ago, I would have found myself just as surprised by today’s announcement.”
Murdock said he wanted to announce his decision to give would-be candidates plenty of time to put together a campaign. “There will be at least two vacant [council] seats,” he said. “I know there will be some excellent candidates stepping forward who will be a welcome addition to the [council] table.”
Murdock’s decision also marks a major break in Saanich electoral politics.
“This year will be only the second Saanich general election since 1999 in which my name is not on the ballot,” said Murdock. “By any measure, two decades in Saanich politics is a good run. It’s time to step aside and make way for new voices and new ideas.”
But if Murdock’s name won’t directly appear on the ballot, his statement made it clear that he won’t entirely passive.
“More than ever, Saanich needs leadership that will stand up for our climate and our environment,” he said. “I intend to actively support candidates this [fall] who put forward a vision of environmental stewardship, who won’t lead us into the past with decisions that strip away the natural environment and with it, so many of the things we cherish about this beautiful part of the world.”