Highland Councillor John Gordon has said it has been a huge honour to serve Skye and Raasay following his announcement this week that he will not be seeking re-election in May.
On Monday (21st February), at what was his last Skye and Raasay Area Committee meeting, Councillor Gordon revealed that he would not contest this year’s election.
Councillor Gordon told the Free Press that the loss of his father to Covid-19 at Home Farm in 2020, had influenced his decision to step down.
He said: “Covid was ruthless on our vulnerable and aged population, and it has exposed many of the weaknesses within the care sector.
“There has been no closure with what happened and to move on in life there needs to be. Much continues behind the scenes as to what happened and it does take up more time than is realised, and with the public inquiry starting that will be another focus.
“It has made me realise that I need to look at my own life’s priorities and live accordingly.”
The Staffin-born member first won a seat within the local authority in 2012, and was re-elected in 2017.
He added: “It’s a huge honour and privilege to serve Skye and Raasay on the council. It brings a huge responsibility, and one that is also very humbling.
“To leave was not an easy decision to make, but it’s the right one for me.
“The last two years have not been easy for us all and for me I need to take a different path in life and recover.”
Paying tributes to his colleagues across his time with the local authority, he said: “I have worked with some visionary people who are true community leaders who know what it is to be a servant of people which is key to the role or indeed any position in public life.
“I want to say thank you to John Finlayson, Calum Munro, Calum Macleod and of course Ronald MacDonald, who resigned over two years ago, as well as our neighbours in Lochalsh; Biz Campbell, Derek Macleod, and Alex MacInnes, and Willie Mackinnon our ward manager, and the staff across the council services and our communities.”
Citing some of his highs as a councillor, he touched on the progress made to safeguard Portree Hospital and improve the infrastructure across tourist hotspots within the ward.
“I remember those initial meetings and hearing concerns from folk who wanted to do more to see Portree Hospital saved from closure. SOS-NHS Portree was formed, much to the disdain of the NHS and certain people in the council. I will never understand their acceptance of having less health care.
“Thankfully the new council was involved in navigating changes and despite the challenges and issues still facing Portree Hospital the work continues.
“The incredible work to deal with tourist infrastructure has been transformational for the islands. As a result of Skye lobbying the council and the Government to address the lack of infrastructure, the rural infrastructure fund was set up by the Scottish Government with Skye in mind.”
Skye and Raasay member John Finlayson – who will be standing again – paid tribute to his fellow councillor.
He said: “I personally would like to thank John for his input and work during his two terms as a councillor.
“This last term of office has been challenging for everyone but even with his own family issues through Covid, John has always been approachable and supportive to both the community and his colleagues, and I wish him well for the future.”
Asked what tips he would pass on to potential candidates wishing to stand for election, Councillor Gordon offered the following advice: “Be yourself and live with honesty, nobody knows everything and that’s ok. Don’t be frightened to ask for help.
“You’ll have your haters, critics and supporters and that’s fine.
“Just focus on the people who want to make a difference – we have some incredible people on Skye and Raasay doing incredible work to benefit the wider community.”
Article by Adam Gordon, image by Willie Urquhart.