Sidney Mayor Larry Cross has announced he won’t seek a third term of office in November.
In a media release issued Aug. 4, Cross, 73, stated his health scare in 2012 was one of the reasons he won’t seek re-election.
“There are so many things I want to do and explore in the next few years, and at this time I want to have the freedom to do so,” Cross stated in the release. “As a result, I have decided not to run for Mayor in the coming municipal elections.
“There is nothing like a health scare to make one evaluate one’s life and look to the future!”
Cross was diagnosed with colon cancer and was absent from the municipality for a short time receiving treatment. Upon his return, he was active and busy in the mayor’s job but a medical appointment this summer made him re-evaluate his priorities.
“I was basically advised not to run,” he said later in a PNR interview. “I was told by my doctor that right now I am cancer-free. But stress doesn’t help the immune system.”
Cross said he still recalls when he was first told he had cancer, the doctor at that time wanted him to get his affairs in order. After his latest physician advised him to essentially end his political career, he took it to heart. He said he spoke often with his wife, Dianne, about his decision, and says they look forward to the next stage — which will include travel and other things they’ve put off for years while Cross held down the mayor’s job.
Councillor Tim Chad said he and other councillors were informed of Cross’ decision in an email shortly before the media release went out. He said there was no indication of the mayor’s decision prior to that.
“I was startled,” Chad said when reached at home Saturday. “We had all kept taking about everybody running and who might be running against us but (Cross) didn’t mention his decision at that time.”
Cross has served on Sidney Town council for nine years and spent the last two terms as the community’s mayor.
“My many thanks to the voters of Sidney who gave me such overwhelming support in the last two mayoralty elections. It has been an honour to serve you. But is time to move on in order to enjoy the many things my wife and I have put aside during the past nine years I have served on Sidney council.”
Cross, a former teacher and school administrator, stated he hopes the next council will honour the strong elements of the Town – its strong cultural, recreational and community life as well as its small-town feeling and people-friendly main street – that his and previous councils have created.
After taking over the role in the economic doldrums of 2008, Cross said he faced many challenges in the mayor’s chair. He said over the last six years he felt it was important to build for the future.
‘We’re not out of it yet,” he said, “but it’s coming along. The worst thing you can do is stop building for the future. You pay for that for a long time.”
He said he’s proud of his time on council, and for such achievements as strengthening the business community by supporting the new BIA and establishing the Mayor’s Task Force on Downtown Revitalization.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good position to deal with the issues and new competition we are facing,” Cross said, noting the ideas and plans of the task force will continue after the fall municipal election — one of the reasons he said he wanted a blue ribbon panel of business and property owners to lead it instead of him.
“I didn’t want that to become political,” he explained, adding he has always enjoyed the fact that council has always been respectful to each other.
He added he hopes the next election is not a down and dirty affair, but one that brings out the best people for the job. Cross said he will stay in office until the transition to a new council, expected in early December. Cross will also vacate at that time his leadership role on the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities.
Chad said Cross has been a good mayor and not unlike any of the community leaders that held that position in the years before him. Chad, the longest-serving Sidney councillor, said all three mayors he has worked with on council have come to the job wanting to improve the community and build on what has come before them.
“(Cross) was great, he was like a friend. He always communicated with us and he never hid anything. And that was the same with all the mayors I’ve worked with.”
Chad will be running for council again in the fall and said he won’t seek the mayor’s chair.
The municipal election is November 15.