For the first time in 12 years, Patti Fletcher won’t have quite as many butterflies in her stomach on election night as in the past.
The long-serving Comox councillor will be carefully watching the results come in — but this time as a citizen, and not as a candidate.
“It’s time to let go and explore life after council. I’m absolutely in the right place and so far, I feel good about it,” Fletcher explained.
Reflecting on her tenure at the council table, the former program director for the Comox Recreation Commission said she was inspired in her early-20s by two female aldermen — Alice Bullen and Clare Ensom — whose work she admired.
“I thought about it quite a bit, thinking maybe I can do that some day. The two women showed me that I could be (at the council table).”
When she first made the decision to run, Fletcher admitted she was naïve about the process and the role, but decided she had nothing to lose. Working at the rec centre, she gained knowledge about the town and staff roles, and campaigned on making Comox a better place to work and live.
“I lived and worked in town, and I really cared and had an interest in it. I remember my first rack card slogan was ‘I care about Comox’,” she noted, and added it was important to her to run while she was working and running a business.
“It was important that I did not wait until I was retired to be on council … I had this impression that everyone on council was retired and thus not giving a complete perspective on the town.”
Once elected, Fletcher befriended the late Councillor Ray Crossley, although she chuckled in the way in which they got to know each other.
“Just before the swearing-in ceremony, Ray fell and broke his leg on the way to get his haircut. I took a copy of the first agenda, and went to his house and we just started talking,” she said, and added Crossley took her under his wing.
One of the first proposals Fletcher recalls looking at was the Comox Mall expansion, and remembers expressing concern about growth and town boundary expansion.
“I remember saying that I thought we needed some sort of growth plan. I didn’t even know there was a regional growth strategy,” she admitted.
Following some time as the only female at the council table, Fletcher considered a run for the mayor’s seat.
“I had a really long chat with myself and thinking about what my values are, and if it was the most important priority in my life, and it wasn’t. And honestly, at the time, I didn’t know if I could do it.”
Entering what would become her final term, Fletcher said she had a long talk with current Mayor Paul Ives, and admitted she had a feeling at the beginning of 2014 that it would be her last year at council.
“I made myself keep (the option open) but knew it was time to let go.”
As one of the two Comox Valley Regional District representatives for the town, Fletcher said she’s “just sinking my teeth” into some of the broader issues and noted she would like to stay and explore further work on the board.
“I really like garbage and solid waste,” she added with a laugh.
One of the many highlights for her was establishing a relationship with the K’ómoks First Nation for rezoning and assistance with the development of their shellfish processing and aquaculture.
One small improvement she hopes to leave with council is the use of iPads rather then paper for council agendas.
She was the only councillor in her last term to use one, and explained it was important for her not only to reduce the amount of paper used, but to reduce staff time on printing and collating agendas, along with the ease of use to find information and past agendas online.
As for the future, Fletcher said her and husband Simon Brampton will be taking a holiday which she hopes will aid in the transition away from the council table, and is open to future plans which may come her way.
“My feeling in life is that unless you’re open to new things, they’re not going to come to you. I don’t know what (the next step) is, but maybe it will combine my experience and education.”
She will continue in her role as vice-chair of the St. Joseph’s General Hospital board of directors and prepare to transition into the role of chair and will continue working at the store she owns with Brampton — Simon’s Cycles.
Fletcher said she’s always maintained the two most important jobs in the world not requiring any formal education is parenting and politics, and offers a simple piece of advice for anyone considering entering municipal politics:
“If you care for your community, that’s the most important.”