After 17 years serving Whistler, eight as a councillor and nine as the mayor, Hugh OReilly is trading in his politicians hat and setting his sights on fairer shores.
In an emotional press conference Wednesday OReilly announced, with watering eyes and breaking voice, that he would not be seeking a fourth term as mayor of Whistler.
"I didnt prepare for this part," he said, pausing to collect his emotions.
Within the month OReilly and his wife Patti will be settling down in Hawaii, where the mayor will be selling real estate for Playground, a subsidiary of Intrawest, at their new 700-unit condo and townhome development named Honua Kai in the North Beach area of Kaanapali on Maui.
"Were creating a new chapter in our lives," he said.
The mayor will not be stepping down prior to Novembers municipal election; rather he will be telecommuting for meetings and even flying in for some.
This was not a quick decision.
OReilly, who has dual Canadian/U.S. citizenship, first started pursuing Playground in December and has quietly been working at getting his real estate licence over the last several months. Last week however, everything fell into place and the future he said is now very exciting.
"Everything we touched in Hawaii was magic," said OReilly looking tanned and relaxed after his recent vacation there.
The OReillys have lived in Whistler for 30 years, raising their two children here.
He began his life here as a ski bum, became the towns chimney sweep 20 years ago and somehow fell into the role of local politician, as the candidate representing young families in a growing resort.
After eight years as councillor he ran for mayor and won, taking over from Ted Nebbeling, who went on to become the areas MLA.
The last three years however, have been admittedly very tough and challenging, working with a council that hasnt been able to gel.
"This has been a very difficult term," he said candidly.
"My leadership style didnt seem to fit with this group of people."
Some of his fellow councillors were surprised at the announcement, only hearing about it via a short e-mail minutes before the press conference.
"I am a little shocked," said Councillor Marianne Wade. "We knew nothing."
Likewise Councillor Caroline Lamont expressed her surprise.
"I am surprised in some ways because I had thought about a year and a half ago he indicated that he wanted to be mayor through to the Olympics," she said.
"So I guess in that sense, because I had heard him say otherwise, that was a bit surprising."
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