Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg won’t be running for a sixth term in next spring’s provincial election.
The affable politician – a former White Rock mayor and councillor – said he has been mulling the decision for several months.
“It’s with very mixed emotions that I’m announcing this,” he told Peace Arch News Monday afternoon, noting he takes pride not only in serving constituents, but in the accomplishments that he and his BC Liberal caucus colleagues have made since he first took provincial office in 1997.
“We made a great team and changed the face of British Columbia for the better,” he said.
But Hogg said he’s reached the decision it’s time now for him to play a more direct role in the community he grew up in – which could involve taking up invitations to be involved as a board member with a number of community organizations.
Hogg’s decision adds another element of change to an already evolving provincial political scene in Surrey and the Semiahmoo Peninsula – with two fellow BC Liberals seeking to run in different Surrey ridings come the spring election.
Stephanie Cadieux, currently Surrey-Cloverdale MLA, announced Monday she is running in the newly created riding of Surrey South, while current Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt will seek office in newly redrawn Surrey Cloverdale.
Crescent Beach, which has been represented as part of Surrey-Cloverdale, and latterly Surrey Panorama, will return to its original alignment with Surrey-White Rock.
Hogg said he’s already finding the role of MLA is hard to step back from.
“It really isn’t a job – it’s more of a lifestyle,” he said. “It becomes somewhat addictive for people. I’ve talked to others who have decided not to run again and they’ve said they have all gone through some form of withdrawal, and I’m going through that, too.”
At the same time, Hogg said, he has always felt very connected to White Rock residents, from his earliest days in Little League, through playing fastball and basketball, and later coaching – as well as in his 20 years as councillor and mayor.
“You lose some of that when you’re going to Victoria and dealing with big-picture issues,” he said.
The office also represented a significant time commitment, he noted.
“I’ve been averaging 70 hours a week. You come in at 7:30 in the morning and you usually don’t get out until 8:30 p.m., and there are also a lot of events on Friday nights and Saturdays and Sundays – but I’ve loved every bit of it.”
And, Hogg said, he wouldn’t rule out a return to politics in some other arena in the future.
“I haven’t thought about that in any real sense,” he said. “But I don’t want to rule out any options. Right now I’m wanting to focus on my work (as MLA) for the next eight months.”
Hogg said that since he first made it known he was considering withdrawing from provincial politics, he has been approached by several community organizations wondering whether he would consider serving on their boards.
And while he’s not making any commitments, he said he doesn’t doubt that, once his provincial duties are over, he will continue to be heavily involved in the community.
“I think I can contribute – I’ve learned a lot over the years,” he said.
He’s also been invited to become an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University, where he completed his PhD earlier this year.
“I’m looking forward to doing some teaching there – and they’ve also been talking with me about turning my dissertation (Creating Public Policy in a Complex Society) into a book.”
The former counsellor, probation officer and regional director of corrections occupied a number of posts in government, including minister of state for mining, minister of state for ActNow BC and minister of children and family development.
His current duties include serving on the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and the Select Standing Committee on Education.
But while he has worked on projects that have created important precedents and travelled internationally to address prestigious groups, Hogg said his most memorable and rewarding achievements have tended to be “the little things”; helping find funding for a deaf student to pursue post-secondary education, for example, or “working with groups like the White Rock Stroke Club and the Friends of the Semiahmoo Bay – little organizations that do great work but don’t get a lot of financial support – and being able to get them some money.”
Such groups, he said “are the heart and soul of a community.”
In a prepared statement released Tuesday morning, Hogg thanked a “strong support system” including his family, and his constituency and legislative staff “for ensuring I was prepared and well-represented.” He also thanked the people of Surrey-White Rock “for placing your confidence in me and bringing forward your issues and ideas.”
In a statement issued Tuesday, Premier Christy Clark said “Gordie’s unique wit and wisdom will be missed.”
“Over the course of his career, Gordie has held an impressive array of roles, and in each he made tremendous and lasting contributions to BC public life,” she said.
“Most recently, as Parliamentary Secretary for Youth Sport, Gordie brought to life the Premier’s Award for Aboriginal Youth Excellence in Sport, which honours and celebrates the next generation of First Nations leaders.”