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Race for Richmond city council: Then, there was one

No matter what happens at next months civic election, there will be a maximum of one Halsey-Brandt left standing. The only namesake left in the candidate pot for the Nov.

No matter what happens at next months civic election, there will be a maximum of one Halsey-Brandt left standing.

The only namesake left in the candidate pot for the Nov. 19 call is incumbent Evelina Halsey-Brandt after her fellow councillors husband and former mayor/MLA Greg and his ex-wife Sue both pulled out of the race at the last minute.

Greg decided to drop out because he was discouraged with the state of Richmond city council, and sees no point in running for office in the upcoming civic election.

City council had gotten too comfortable, and I dont see change coming, said Halsey-Brandt. I couldnt get anywhere on a number of initiatives, he added.

Last election, Halsey-Brandt ran on a platform calling for more scrutiny of city finances, for example.

He wanted council to look at each departments budget and carefully assess expenditures. It wasnt about going in there with an ax, he added. Some programs may have needed beefing up. Either way, council should be making that evaluation, he argued.

However, no one on council, apart from his wife Evelina Halsey-Brandt, would support his initiative.

Im really not sure why. It would take time, but we used to do it, and how else can we know if we are getting good value?

Instead, each departments financial total from the previous budget was simply accepted as is. The only thing discussed was possible new expenditures.

He has also become frustrated that so much focus has been on big ticket items, such as building the oval, or the new RCMP headquarters or a couple of new fire halls.

These are all good things, but we are forgetting about the little things that impact peoples day-to-day lives like installing a left turning signal at a particular intersection, or playgrounds in the city centre.

Moreover, it is difficult to hold councilors to account on anything, Greg Halsey-Brandt said.

We used to have a slate on the left and a slate on the right and there would be more accountability, at least you knew what they stood for. This way, its a mixture, and you cant pin anyone down on anything. Its difficult to run on your record because we did everything as everybody.

While his political frustrations partly explain why hes not seeking re-election, personal interests are also at play.

Greg, 68, said he wants to spend more time with his grandkids, boating, traveling and enjoying life as a senior.

Sue, meanwhile, said she agonized right up until the night before Fridays deadline as to whether to continue a 27-year love affair with local politics.

At the end of the day, I think life is just too short and, without getting into my age, Im getting older and I started to think about the commitment needed for another three years, Sue told the News.

I struggled last week over this, I really did, I didnt sleep a wink. But after I made the decision, I knew it was the right one.

I feel very fortunate to have been a city councillor during these exciting times. But we now need people to come in with fresh ideas.

As well as putting 27 years as a school trustee and councillor behind her, Sue is now contemplating retiring from her job as a school music teacher in Vancouver, so she can spend time with her husband, who retires next year.

I love my job, but, as I said, life is too short and weve just finished building a beautiful cottage on the Sunshine Coast which I want to enjoy, she added.

Sue, who also cited the need to spend more family time with her eight grandchildren, had been fully expected to run with the RITE slate, which distributed her bio and picture in a press release as recently as last week.