Will he or won’t he run again?
For Langford Mayor Stew Young, after 30 years in municipal politics, the question comes up as regularly as an election cycle, and it’s one he’ll continue to answer the same way he always has.
“I got involved to help make Langford a municipality and thought I’d run for two terms,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Goldstream Gazette. “I’ve said after every term I’ll do another one, and I’ve always told council I’ll give them my decision three months before the next election.”
The next municipal election is set for the fall of 2022.
Although he originally wanted to retire when he turned 60, Young, now 62, has managed to do that to some degree after selling 90 per cent of his business holdings in the past couple of years.
“I’ve retired from the day-to-day business operations. I don’t even have an office now. I still get calls to help people out, but now I focus strictly on the mayor’s duties.”
Between running a business and being a politician, he spent many a 16-hour day, with meetings, speeches and events on weekends, he said. “I’m now able to spend more time with my kids and my two grandchildren, and that’s become more of a focus.”
Compared to 30 years ago, when Langford had little in the way of sidewalks, streetlights and sewers, much has changed in the work of mayor and council, Young noted.
“Langford’s getting busier, which means politicians are getting busier and learning new stuff all the time. There’s police, fire, housing, recreation, density – so many issues to deal with compared to then.”
He added with a laugh: “I know that everyone with a computer has an opinion and thinks they’re a councillor and that certainly wasn’t the case 30 years ago. At least in Langford, you’re guaranteed that we’re going to make a decision and move on to the next problem. Nothing gets dragged out here for three years.”
Although Young is proud of what council has accomplished during his tenure, he believes there’s still more to do.
“The next five years will be very important,” he stressed. “Now we can focus on getting a theatre because of the importance of supporting the arts, and work on bringing a university to Langford. I think people who have lived in Langford for a long time are happy with what we’ve done. Most of the complaints I hear are from people who moved here six months ago.”
He pointed to such feathers in the city’s cap as having the lowest taxes in the region and being ranked number 1 community to live in B.C. by McLean’s Magazine. “You can buy a house here and find a job, and we’ve added a lot of amenities and recreation options, especially for young families.”
While Young was reluctant to share anything negative, he said the pandemic has posed its share of problems for everyone.
“I’m a people person. I like to talk to people to resolve situations and COVID’s made that hard to do.”