Fifteen years ago, Murray Presley was looking for a challenge, and he found it in municipal politics.
He was participating in the Kidney Foundation’s jail and bail fundraiser with former Courtenay mayor Ron Webber when, as they were walking to “jail,” Webber asked Presley if he had ever thought of running for city council.
“I really hadn’t thought of it, and I thought I might,” said Presley. “I wanted a challenge at that time, and it certainly has been a challenge. It’s been exciting.”
That challenge is ending, as Presley has decided not to run in November’s municipal election after five terms on Courtenay council.
“It’s based on the fact I have put 15 years in, and I turned 65 last November,” he said. “I think it would be a really good idea for somebody younger and with fresh ideas to be on council. I’ve loved it very much and have enjoyed being on council, but I could certainly run again and possibly win again, but by doing so, I’d prevent someone with new ideas from getting in.”
Presley says he would like to do some other things he enjoys, including spending time with his family and travelling. He is planning a month-long tour of India this November.
“I’ve always been lucky in that even through a lot of campaigns — and I went through five — I think two I was a way for, the taxpayers still put me in,” he said. “I was fortunate that way. But you can only do that for so long.”
Presley is happy with how Courtenay has developed in the last 15 years.
“I think it’s still a great community to live in,” he said. “I’m happy with the way that, in many ways, it’s led the way. I don’t expect to move away; the Comox Valley will always be my home.”
Presley says he has enjoyed being on council.
“I certainly enjoyed working with my fellow councillors,” he said. “We haven’t always agreed and have had our little battles, but one thing I have to remind myself is I can’t win them all … I needed to listen to issues both ways before I voted. I tried not to come with my mind made up, which is a big mistake.”
Presley is proud of the fact that Courtenay council has “graduated some pretty neat people” — people like Don McRae, who went on to become the Comox Valley’s MLA, and Noor Ahmed, who became an officer in the Canadian Forces.
“We’ve attracted good people like Jon Ambler, retired military,” he said. “We have a working mix right now at council, not all left and not all right.”