Mayor Joanne Monaghan teared up and said: “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my 32 years.” Councillor Richard McLaren announced his resignation from Council for health reasons on August 16th.
Watch a video of his resignation presentation HERE
“A little over seventy years ago, a famous baseball player, for the New York Yankees called Lou Gehrig spoke to the crowd at Yankee Stadium. He told the stunned crowd that he could not play baseball for the New York Yankees any more because Doctors had told him that he had this terrible disease which was going to take his life. Amazingly, in his speech, he called himself the luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth because even though he had caught a bad break, he had been able to do so many things in his life,” said McLaren.
McLaren was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He told Council at a Committee of the Whole meeting, in camera on July 11th and on July 27th, he attended the ALS clinic in Vancouver which confirmed the diagnosis.
“For those who do not know, ALS is a terminal progressive degenerative disease of the nerves and muscles. Its rate of progression can very from patient to patient. From what I’ve heard from others, the doctors seem to tell everyone that they have three years, but you hear very uplifting stories of patients living many years beyond that,” said McLaren.
He reflected on Frank Rathgerber who he said lived 15 years with ALS. McLaren said he was in the process of being cleared for the only drug prescribed with ALS which could slow the progression of this disease but was not a cure.
“I am very fortunate that I have a loving wife and a younger son that lives with me. I am also fortunate to have an elder son who lives with his family in town. I am also fortunate to have a daughter and her family who live in Coquitlam,” said McLaren. “I have a loving family to surround and support me and my faith to sustain me and so because of this, I also regard myself as the luckiest man alive.”
McLaren thanked the community for the tremendous support which they have shown him and his family. He encouraged the people of Kitimat to support societies including: ALS, Heart and Stroke, Lung Association, the MS Society and the Cancer Society. “They do great work supporting people at their most vulnerable time,” said McLaren.
McLaren expressed he had a great life achieving his dreams. He is taking the unanimous advice from his family and resigning from Council so he could save his strength for his family. He is submitting a formal letter of resignation before the end of the month. He stated he was aware this would cause a by election. He had hoped the by-election would give the people of Kitimat a chance to send a message to Council.
“I hope and pray that people that do run are open and transparent in their agenda’s for Council so that the public can have a clear choice on who to vote for. What is important is that people run, and they be open, and honest, and when the people vote, they send whatever message they want to Council,” said McLaren “My time here at this table is up and must leave it up to the good people of Kitimat to decide where they want to go next. Thank you.”
“We really appreciate your wisdom, we appreciate your guidance and we appreciated everything you’ve done for the community. I’ve enjoyed working with you,” said Monaghan.
McLaren did not stick around for the ‘In Camera’ session which followed the Council meeting. McLaren received the second highest amount of votes in the 2008 Municipal Election with 1784 votes.
We at the Kitimat Daily would like to wish Councillor Richard McLaren well and hope the time he has left is long and filled with joy.