Carl Zehr to retire after 17 years as Kitchener mayor
Published Tuesday, February 4, 2014 10:46AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6:58PM EST
There will be a new face leading Kitchener following October’s municipal election.
Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr announced Tuesday that he will retire from elected politics following the current term of office.
“I felt that it was my time to exit the stage and move on to something else,” Zehr tells CTV News.
“I still have lots of energy, but I think it’s time to pass the torch.”
Zehr, 68, was first elected to city council in 1985, staying in that position until 1994.
In 1997, he was elected to his first of five consecutive terms as mayor.
Aside from those roles, Zehr chaired the Big City Mayors’ Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for three years.
Asked about his greatest accomplishments in office, one of the first things Zehr mentions is improvements to the downtown.
“I remember saying 10 years ago, ‘You won’t recognize the place in 10 years.’ Some people who have come back and visited are saying just that,” he says.
He also points to new developments in the city’s suburbs, including newly built community centres, fields, parks and fire stations as well as expanded library services, as part of his legacy – but quickly downplays the notion that he’s solely responsible for those changes.
“It certainly isn’t just about me … it is the broader group of people who’ve always been doing this, working together,” he says.
Another strength Zehr sees in the city is how it was able to pull through the recent recession by “changing the look, the feel and the economy within our city.”
And does the outgoing mayor have any advice for his replacement?
“Always be yourself. Know what is inside you. Know what the foundation is that you bring to the chair,” he says.
“It’s not about the individual. It’s about the larger picture. It’s about making the community a better place than it was when you first arrived.”
Zehr says he doesn't have plan to retire completely, but will spend more time with his family while pursuing other interests.