Ray Jones, Calgary’s longest-serving city councillor, has announced he’s resigning.
Jones, who represents Ward 10, cited health issues as the reason for his decision. It was delivered in a letter to City Manager David Duckworth.
“I will miss my colleagues and the City staff that I have had the pleasure of working with for the past twenty-seven years,” Jones wrote in the letter.
“The city of Calgary is a great place to live and work; Council and City staff make a difference in the lives of Calgarians daily, and I am so proud of you all.”
Jones was first elected in 1993. It was a byelection in Ward 5 that had 23 candidates.
The long-time councillor has three children and eight grandchildren and Jones still resides in the community of Rundle (@RundleRay on Twitter). That’s where he began his public service, sitting as the civic affairs direct and board chair. He was board chair for eight years.
Jones letter indicated his retirement would be effective at the end of the day on Oct. 19. It will be officially received for the corporate record at the Oct. 26 full meeting of council.
Health issues related to fall last year
The councillor suffered a fall and concussion that forced him to be absent from council for several weeks last year.
“I got a hematoma on the brain and I broke four ribs,” Jones told LiveWire Calgary on Monday.
“I haven’t been right since. I’ve been going to doctors – numerous doctors – and they’ve diagnosed me with kidney disease and Parkinson’s.”
He called it a “double whammy.”
“It was a long time coming and everything with COVID… I just didn’t want that to be part of the story,” he said.
Jones said the health issues were pressing enough that it was best to move ahead with the retirement sooner rather than later.
Calgary will have a municipal election one year from now.
Highlights of a three-decade career
Jones said he was elected in 1993 on the promise of building an arena.
Not that one.
“I started out with promising to build an arena, which we got built – named after (former alderman and mayor) Don Hartman,” he said.
“And since then, I’ve been involved in a lot of sporting things. I was the sports guy on council. Whenever something happened with sports, I was the one they called to go do it.”
Jones is an avid Calgary Stampeders fan. He’s a board member with Sport Calgary. He was a community coach prior to joining city council.
Jones also was the city’s rep with the Saddledome Foundation.
He is a Governor General’s of Canada Award recipient (1993), Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award for Community Service recipient (2003), Alberta Centennial Medal )2005) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient (2012).
Calgary is in ‘trouble’, Jones said
After 27 years, Jones said he’s seen a lot. He’s seen a city and society that has fundamentally changed.
“1993 was such a different time. We didn’t have social media. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even have computers,” he said.
“It was a different kind of council. When people wanted to complain, they either had to phone us or send us a letter. I gotta admit, that was a lot more pleasant than it is now.”
With the current economic downturn, he said the city must pay careful attention to its budget. We asked him to describe the situation the city is in right now.
“In trouble,” he remarked.
“I think it’s going to be a long, hard road back. And I think council has to pay attention.”
Jones said Calgarians often see the city as an entity that just collects taxes. He said they take a lot of blame for much of what’s mandated by the province.
Camaraderie will be missed
Jones said it’s been a “fun” 27 years. He said he’ll miss most the camaraderie among council members. Jones has been through three mayors and 52 different councillors.
“Every time we get a change in council, we get a change in philosophy,” he said, praising former mayors Al Duerr and Dave Bronconnier and current mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi acknowledged that, Jones, who is his city councillor, has done extraordinary things in his time on council.
“Let me suffice it to say that for me personally, it has been an extraordinary pleasure to be able to work with my councillor,” Mayor Nenshi said.
“He’s been my councillor for the 20 years since I’ve moved back to Calgary. And he certainly has done extraordinary things for our community.”
There are no requirements to fill the now-vacant seat prior to the October 2021 municipal election.
Jones said his staff will remain on to help constituents with the transition to a new councillor.