“I’m leaving my job as mayor of Mississauga — that’s all,” the 93-year-old career politician told CBC News recently. “I’m not retiring.”
McCallion has held the top job in the southern Ontario city since 1978.
Voters have since returned her to office 12 times. During two of those elections she ran unopposed and, even when challenged, McCallion often didn't bother to spend time or money campaigning.
But this time, after 36 years, Hurricane Hazel as she’s affectionately known has opted not to run again.
Her would-be successors include Coun. Bonnie Crombie and former city councillor Steve Mahoney, who appear to be in a dead heat going into the Oct. 27 election.
McCallion has not endorsed any of the candidates, and isn’t certain if she will. She has also not taken sides in the highly contentious mayoral race in neighbouring Toronto.
Her advice to Mississauga’s next mayor? Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
“I said I would plan for people, that I would give them value for their tax dollar. I never said I’d reduce taxes,” she said. “You’ve got to be honest with people. You can’t make promises you haven’t got a hope of fulfilling.”
McCallion said she hopes her legacy will be “building a city for people. So people can enjoy the quality of life.”
Mississaugans will toast McCallion and her career at the city’s International Centre.
Her memoirs will be published next month. Beyond that, McCallion says she hasn’t decided what she will do.
“I’m going to keep busy.”