Saint-La­zare mayor to step down for health rea­sons

Fall by-elec­tion loo­ming

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Ka­ry, 42, who made the unex­pec­ted an­noun­ce­ment a few days be­fore Ch­rist­mas, said Mon­day he’s wai­ting for re­sults on me­di­cal tests he’s had done.

He de­cli­ned to dis­close more on the na­ture of the health is­sues, ho­we­ver, saying he would like to keep his pri­vate life pri­vate. Ka­ry will step down as of June 29, 2012. He was elec­ted to his first four-year term as mayor in No­vem­ber of 2009.

Elec­ted with him as part of the Sha­red Vi­sion Par­ty were Coun­cil­lors Jean-pierre Gi­guère, Na­tha­lie Ri­chard, who was vo­ted pro-mayor at the first mee­ting of the new coun­cil, Gil­bert Ar­se­nault, and Jean-claude Gauthier.

Coun­cil­lors Bri­gitte As­se­lin and Mi­chel Lam­bert de­fea­ted can­di­dates from Ka­ry’s par­ty to round out the mu­ni­ci­pal coun­cil team.

Soon af­ter ta­king of­fice As­se­lin and Lam­bert pu­bli­cly re­fu­sed to si­gn confi­den­tia­li­ty agree­ments when as­ked by Ka­ry, along with all other coun­cil mem­bers. The town coun­cil has of­ten had acri­mo­nious mee­tings.

The ra­pid­ly gro­wing town has gone from 17,000 re­si­dents in 2006 to more than 20,000 to­day. Saint-la­zare was al­so na­med a town with one of the youn­gest po­pu­la­tions, with 31-percent of re­si­dents li­ving in the town being un­der the age of 30.

A by-elec­tion to fill Ka­ry’s post un­til Nov. 2013 could be held in late Sep­tem­ber or ear­ly Oc­to­ber.

Un­til then pro-mayor Na­tha­lie Ri­chard will as­sume all mayo­ral du­ties once Ka­ry’s re­si­gna­tion comes in­to ef­fect in June.

Dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion

In a phone in­ter­view this week, Ka­ry said the de­ci­sion to step-down as mayor was not ea­sy, and one he had contem­pla­ted du­ring

Saint-la­zare mayor Pierre Ka­ry an­noun­ced late last month he will step down as mayor of the boo­ming Vau­dreuil-sou­langes town at the end of June due to un­dis­clo­sed health is­sues.

the past few months.

“I’ve had some health is­sues for about a year now,” he said, ad­ding, “It’s pro­gres­sing and not in a po­si­tive sense... I’ve had a few scares. I need to fo­cus on my health.”

The mar­ried fa­ther of a nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daugh­ter says his fa­mi­ly has mixed emo­tions about the de­ci­sion.

On one hand, Ka­ry will no lon­ger be away from home four to five nights a week.

On the other, he will not have a full four year term to rea­lize ma­ny of his goals for the town.

“My wife knows I do this job with pas­sion and en­joy my work and want to ac­com­plish cer­tain things in this town... for the com­mu­ni­ty. She shares with methe re­gret,” he said.

Ad­vance no­tice

Though he could have wai­ted to make the an­noun­ce­ment, Ka­ry said he wan­ted to give town of­fi­cials time to pre­pare for the change.

“I knew if I were to just walk away over­night it would make things dif­fi­cult at ci­ty hall and make things dif­fi­cult for the staff,” Ka­ry said.

As with any elec­tion, can­di­dates in­ter­es­ted in filling Ka­ry’s shoes will file ap­pli­ca­tions with the pro­vince.

When as­ked, Ka­ry brist­led a lit­tle when as­ked to name the ac­com­plish­ments of which he is most proud.

“I’m not done yet. I will conti­nue to put re­sults ahead of politics,” he said.

For example, he said the current ad­mi­nis­tra­tion will get to work in the New Year on im­ple­men­ting its new mu­ni­ci­pal bud­get that will in­clude such pro­jects as a re­crea­tio­nal trail net­work, in­crea­sing the current bi­cycle path net­work and new soccer and foot­ball fields.

“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to ac­com­plish to­ge­ther in two years, it’s the most pro­duc­tive couple of years the ci­ty has seen in a long time,” he opi­ned.

Other ac­com­plish­ments made in 2011 in­clu­ded im­pro­ve­ments to town fire and me­di­cal emer­gen­cy ser­vices, as well as the aque­duct and water treat­ment net­work, in­crea­sing pu­blic trans­por­ta­tion in Saint­La­zare, and more.

Ka­ry was al­so suc­cess­ful in seeing the mayor’s sa­la­ry in­crea­sed to $60,000 from $27,000.

Of his re­grets, Ka­ry na­med the re­cent­ly de­fea­ted $14.5 mil­lion mu­ni­ci­pal swim­ming pool pro­ject that coun­cil mem­bers vo­ted against on Dec. 20.

“Cer­tain coun­cil mem­bers killed the pro­ject,” he said.

The de­feat al­so nul­li­fied a pen­ding ap­pli­ca- tion the town had made for a $6.8 mil­lion pro­vin­cial grant that would have co­ve­red part of the cost of the pool pro­ject.

“There is a lot of com­pe­ti­tion for this mo­ney, the ti­ming (of the vote) could not have been worse,” Ka­ry said.

Saint-la­zare would have nee­ded to bor­row ano­ther $7 mil­lion above the pro­vin­cial grant in or­der to have built the pool.

Ka­ry says he would ra­ther have seen the pro­cess run its course, lea­ving the de­ci­sion as to if they wan­ted to pay for a mu­ni­ci­pal pool up to ci­ti­zens.

“This way the ci­ti­zens do not have a say at all. I still feel a ma­jo­ri­ty of re­si­dents wan­ted the pool and that the cost would have been dee­med worth it,” he said.

Next six months

Though he knows whoe­ver takes his place may not share his vi­sions or goals for Saint­La­zare, Ka­ry says he will fo­cus on what can be ac­com­pli­shed du­ring the next six months.

“I will put in the time nee­ded to get the job done... I know so­meone else will be ta­king my place so I have to choose my pro­jects ac­cor­din­gly,” he no­ted.

And though he knows his re­pla­ce­ment may have a dif­ferent agenda, Ka­ry hopes whoe­ver takes over will place equal im­por­tance on each re­sident.

“I hope my re­pla­ce­ment will treat all ci­ti­zens the same way and not see two or three classes for re­si­dents,” he said.

“Some people who are ne­wer to Saint­La­zare, who have li­ved here less than 10 years, for example, have been trea­ted like se­cond class ci­ti­zens (in the past), I hope whoe­ver takes my place will treat all people as first class ci­ti­zens.”

PHO­TO KRIS­TI­NA ED­SON

Saint-la­zare mayor Pierre Ka­ry will re­si­gn his po­si­tion in June, lea­ving the job tem­po­ra­ri­ly to pro-mayor Na­tha­lie Ri­chard. A by-elec­tion will be held next fall.

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