Why I Am Leaving Politics

One of my favourite bands is the Eagles. When the group broke up in 1980, Don Henley famously described it as a “horrible relief”. These words came to me time and again as I contemplated my decision to not seek municipal re-election in 2014.

Many of you have personally encouraged me to run for Mayor or councillor, whether directly, or through the petition. I am grateful for your support and appreciate your kind comments.  Saying thank you doesn’t adequately convey the extent of my appreciation. Your support has sustained me for some time.

This has not been an easy decision. There is no single compelling reason for leaving, but rather a collective that leads to an inevitable conclusion.

When I ran in 2010 I indicated it would likely be my last election as I don’t support the notion of municipal career politicians. When municipal politicians view their work as employment, the focus becomes self-serving rather than civic service. Of course there are many successful long-term politicians who have done great work with civic service top of mind. They are usually the minority. Unseating an incumbent is an enormous challenge.  Municipal term limits allow for a changing dynamic on council with new ideas and new opportunities. I have had my turn and it is time for someone else.

The 8-7 teeter-totter of council decision making this past term has strained relationships and made working together challenging. With a council as divisive as ours, and if incumbency carries the power it does, it will take a unique set of skills and a gifted individual to move the majority in a unified direction. That person is not me. Given my level of frustration with some of my colleagues, diplomacy is not my strong suit.

I am tired and worn down. Politics is not enjoyable anymore, not that enjoyable aptly describes the political environment. In the past, it seemed easy to disagree with a colleague and still respect their right to a divergent opinion and work together. Times have changed.  

I have many interests and for years my personal life has often taken a back seat to civic life. I was ok with this; it was part of the job. That’s not the case anymore and I long for a sense of normalcy. In short, I want my life back.

As the new year unfolds, I will continue to do what I can to work with my colleagues in the long-term interest of the community.  There is ample work to be done and I am committed to fulfilling my obligation to the citizens of Ward 5 and the broader London community.

In closing, I hope 2014 will shine brightly on London.

 

15 thoughts on “Why I Am Leaving Politics

  1. No one and certainly not I could say that you had not given more then anyone could expect from another. That said, I read this news with dismay. I was one of the people that signed that petition, in major part because I believe you are the one person that could run for mayor that I could proudly throw my vote behind. I believe that this is true of many many people and even among those that don’t traditionally vote. From the way you actually were a voice for your constituents, the way you stuck to what was right rather then what was expedient. Even your appearance at occupy just to discuss the issues. I believe this might indeed be a turnover year for incumbents, especially those that got a numbered nick name, for their dinner habits as much as their voting habits. At any rate I would love to hear that you change your mind, either way all the best and thank you for your service to our community and for doing what was right during all those years you served

  2. Joni,
    You have been a wonderful representative on Council and I am personally appreciative for your service to our community. I have always held you in high regard and I look forward to crossing paths with you today, tomorrow or in the future. Thank you Joni, Randy

  3. Hello Joni. I was dismayed when I initially read on FB that you were not running for council again. It is a sad day.
    Your blog, however, has shed light on what so many of us know to be true – that we have a highly dysfunctional and divisive city council. I can well understand that the stress and atmosphere in that environment would be poisonous, especially to someone with strong ethics.
    No-one could have done more than you have during your time as councillor. You have earned the deep respect of a huge number of Londoners. I wish you the best of life as you turn your face to other ventures, to your family and friends, and to your future.
    With respect.

  4. Joni,
    You’ve been a wonderful role model and amazing councillor when I lived in your ward. Good luck with your next phase of life and congratulations for your hard work serving our city. So proud to know you :)
    hug!!

  5. Politics for those with morals and ethics often times feels like spinning wheels on a frozen patch of road. Feel good about the decision to leave politics and pursue your life’s passions. Have a healthy and happy New Year. All our best to your new adventures.

  6. Hey Joni,
    Thanks so much for everything you’ve done for our city these past 14 years. All the plaudits blanketing the mainstream and social media are so well deserved.
    You can join Susan Eagle and, apparently, Gina Barber, in very well-earned retirement from the soul-deadening slog which is, unfortunately, the lot of progressive political leaders. (So much easier for cheerfully deceitful “populists” of the Rob Ford ilk.)
    Please enjoy a rest. I’m sure that London will, though, one day again see you adding to the important role you have played in its future.
    Lord knows, it needs all the help it can get!
    Best,
    Jeff

  7. Joni, you have been a shining light on the city council and an outstanding example of what every politician should be–thoughtful, well-prepared, and committed to the public good. You have worked with integrity, honesty and grit. Thank you for your many years of service to the City of London. May you find much satisfaction and enjoyment in the next phase of your life.

  8. Joni <3 You have been absolutely wonderful to this city. Thank you. I'm excited for you to have your life back. I hope you'll consider mentoring future leaders. They could use your wisdom.

  9. Thanks so much for your dedication to the people of London. You have always been generous with your time, your knowledge and your energy. It will be hard to find someone who is so capable and so giving.
    I also want to thank you for the time you gave to your colleagues, helping them to understand governance, planning and finance. I could never have survived my four years on Board of Control without your support and friendship.

  10. Thank you very much for the intelligence and dignity you have brought to your work at city hall. While I feel it is a tremendous loss for the city, I appreciate your need to renewal and your life back. I will miss your voice of reason, knowledge and genuine caring for the city. I wish you the best.

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  12. Thanks for your contributions to the City of London over the last 14 years. It is unfortunate that you are leaving but it is also understandable. It is London’s loss. The new Council will be a challenge and hopefully not a disaster..

  13. Good to know the time to go, even if many regret that decision. Look forward to hearing about your personal interests put aside in these Council years. And congratulations to your family for backing you up in Council years.
    Re promoting females competing in local politics — please do not let things deteriorate to the male media suddenly sneering at the roles of family female members in the past – “Kinder, Küche, Kirche”. LFP trivializing the kitchen as a workplace, paid or of for personal need, demeans women hired to look after one’s household, as well as ignoring the emergence of the female professional chef.
    It even sends a poor message to children…
    Good luck !

  14. Ms. Baechler, I admire you more and more as I listen to you and read more on your thoughts for a civic politician. Unfortunately you are not only in the minority but at least one of your present colleagues has yard signs saying that he wants the job to be full time. I agree with your statement that it is hard for new people to unseat an incumbent and the people that do are usually given the less glamorous committees to serve on. Career politicians are just that, politicians whose make a career of being re-elected. They offer nothing to the citizens of the city but their name and picture. Unfortunately that is the nature of all politics. You have managed to serve on some of these committees and still get your message out, without making it seem self-serving. London will be the poorer for your leaving but I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

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