Richard Fowler earned respect, admiration
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 11, 2012 06:00 am
The success or failure of a politician is best measured by his or her legacy. There are not many politicians at any level who have achieved enough during their time in office, whose actions have significantly benefited their community, province or country, to be worthy of respect and admiration.
One man who is worthy of that admiration would be Richard (Dick) Fowler.
When people pass away the tendency is to say only gracious, kind words. And there were plenty of those words being spoken this week after the passing Sunday morning of Fowler, a former St. Albert mayor, MLA and provincial court judge.
Beyond the words, however, there is the actual legacy of what Fowler did for his community.
Fowler helped steer St. Albert through its most turbulent times in the 1960s, during his first term as city mayor, and again in the 1980s, during his second run as the city’s top elected official.
He became mayor in 1965 after six months of chaos on city council when the October 1964 election was declared invalid because of voting irregularities. Sitting mayor William Veness and three councillors were also removed from office by a judge.
An elected councillor at the time, Fowler stepped up to run for mayor and was elected. He used his negotiating and personal skills to steer council on a steady path towards the stability that ultimately played a significant role in allowing St. Albert to experience the type of growth it has undergone over the last 30 years.
After being acclaimed mayor in 1980 for his second term, he spearheaded St. Albert’s successful opposition to annexation by a booming Edmonton both in 1980 and again in 1981.
It was, as his wife Dawne said this week, a challenging time and Fowler loved a challenge.
Even though he had quit school after Grade 11, following his first term as mayor he gave up politics to go back to school, earning two degrees and eventually becoming a lawyer.
Fowler’s popularity was evident when he decided to return to politics. No one would run against him in 1980 or 1983 and he was re-elected in 1986 with nearly 70 per cent of the vote.
The other, perhaps even more important, legacy of a politician is to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
Current city councillor Cam MacKay once said Fowler inspired him by the simple action of asking the people for their input into a rezoning request.
MacKay said at the time: “You can’t make perfect decisions or do all the right things, but what you can do is you can try to listen to the people and that’s what Mr. Fowler did.”
As American humourist and social commentator Will Rogers once said: “If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing.”
And Richard Fowler did.