It was with much grace and poise that outgoing Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz conceded leadership of the city to Ken Popove, who won Saturday’s vote.
“I’m relieved that the election is over,” she explained shortly after the polls finished coming in, “(but) I’m grateful for the 22 years the city gave me.”
Unlike her previous mayoral campaigns, Gaetz was up against some heavy competition this election season with four other candidates, two of whom were incumbent city councillors, Ken Popove and Sam Waddington, who both received top votes for their seats in the 2014 municipal election.
However, Gaetz—who is the city’s first female mayor—is no stranger to Chilliwack’s political landscape, having won her first seat on city council in 1996, where she served for 12 years before winning the mayor’s seat for the first time in 2008. And before that she served on the Chilliwack school board.
With a smile, Gaetz recalled her years of public service and says it’s been a wonderful ride.
“It’s been a beautiful time. I’ll miss my colleagues at the City, and UBCM, and urban finance, but most of all, I’m really going to miss my staff: they’re the heartbeat of the city, they take great pride in what they do, and it’s been a beautiful thing to learn from them.”
That said, Gaetz says she’s ready for a break. “I’m going to enjoy the next few months of my life and catch my breath.”
And although there are thoughts of an extended European vacation with her husband, Jim, where the two of them can soak up the sun and enjoy each other’s company during weeks of rest and relaxation, Gaetz says she’s not interested in retirement just yet.
“There are always lots of opportunities on the horizon,” she explained during her campaign celebration on Oct. 20. “I’ve had many interesting careers during my life, so I’m keeping my options open. We’ll just have to see what the future brings.”
And Gaetz says she’s ready for whatever that is.
“No matter what, I have my friends and my family. I have a wonderful husband, son and (daughter-in-law), and two incredible grandchildren whom I love dearly. And I get to spend more time with them, and I’m very thankful for that, too.”