When Regional District of Nanaimo director George Holme first stumbled into the political ring in 1983, he didn’t expect to be there for more than five years.
But 29 years later, he’s still representing Nanoose Bay and after nearly three decades on the board he’s decided to call it quits “to work on his health.”
Holme made the announcement a few weeks ago and said he hasn’t officially endorsed a candidate to take his position.
“I can honestly say I’m looking forward to retirement,” he told The NEWS candidly with a smile, from his Nanoose Bay home overlooking the Georgia Strait.
Holme, a butcher by trade, said he served as the Nanoose Bay Volunteer fire chief for 10 years before taking on the RDN role, which came by way of surprise.
He explained back in 1983 a group of residents, himself included, banded together to endorse another candidate in the area — however, he showed up last to a meeting and by the time he arrive he was notified the group had decided he would be a good candidate for office.
“I didn’t think too much about it,” he recalled. “I ran and won.”
Holme went on to serve as the board chair for 10 years from 1992 to 2002. He was succeeded by current chair Joe Stanhope.
Holme said during his time in office he’s had some “funny requests” from residents asking him to “do something about” the sound of sea lions to getting rid of the deer infiltrating some resident’s gardens.
“You have to be honest with people,” Holme laughed. “If you can help them, do what you can.”
Holme said over the last 29 years his political platform is the same one he initially ran with.
“Keep taxes down and services up,” he said, adding proudly that Nanoose Bay has the lowest taxes of all the electoral areas.
Holme said he’s always been adamantly against pay raises to board members — an effort to keep taxes down.
“I think we’re overpaid,” he said. “Right off the bat if you’re in it for the money, forget it.”
He said the best thing about municipal politics is the pension. Well, that was in jest, of course.
“I’ve been here for 29 years and I won’t even get a gold watch,” he chuckled. “You get into it because you take an interest in your community and how it is developing.”
Holme said he plans on spending his new-found free time catching up on sports.
“I’m a real sports nut,” he said. “My favourite baseball team is the Seattle Mariners, and I’m hopeful for Toronto since they’re Canadian.”
But mostly he said he’s looking forward to getting his health back on track, as he just underwent back surgery in Vancouver.
While representing the community of Nanoose Bay, Holme raised four children — two of which live in the area and are volunteer firefighters — with his wife Elizabeth, who he’s been married to for 46 years.
Holme said he plans on following local politics with a keen eye after stepping down from the board, which will officially happen after the upcoming Nov. 15 election.
Holme’s last big project was securing an area known as The Notch, to be preserved for parkland in the Fairwinds development.
“Parkland has always been a big item for me,” he said. “Greenspace for people is important around here.”
After 29 years, Holme said:
“It’s been fun — there are certainly days when it’s frustrating and days when it’s rewarding, but you certainly get to meet a lot of different people.”