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Saulie Zajdel leaves politics
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 11 juin 2009
Photo Iuliana Petrescu
Saulie Zajdel.
Saulie Zajdel is scaling down to one job and taking time to smell the roses. After 23 years as city councillor in the Victoria and Darlington districts of Côte-des-Neiges, Zajdel said he won’t be seeking a seventh term in the November municipal election.
“It’s bitter sweet,” he said in an interview after the borough council meeting on June 1, when he announced his decision. “You have to decide when you want to slow down a little bit, not have two jobs for the rest of your life, spend more time with your family.”
On top of his job with the city, Zajdel works for the foundation of the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital in Laval, to which he’ll be able to dedicate more time when he leaves politics. He’s held jobs in the public sector during most of his political career, apart from the time he spent on the city of Montreal’s executive committee from 1994 to 2001.
But Zajdel is also a proud grandfather eager to enjoy more time with his grandchildren. He is the third councillor to retire from the Côte-des-Neiges-NDG council, following Warren Allmand and Marcel Tremblay’s announcements in early April.
“It will certainly be a big hole on that side of the borough council, just like Warren’s leaving a big hole on this side of the borough council,” said veteran Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand, who sits between the two. “Even Marcel, we’ll miss you too,” he added with a laugh to avoid any favoritism.
Zajdel’s colleagues covered him in lengthy praise and reminisced about the good times they’d spent together, even when they found themselves at opposite sides of the fence in terms of opinion or political parties. Zajdel spent 11 years with Pierre Bourque’s Vision Montréal party.
“It’s only recently that I stopped calling Saulie Zajdel ‘the new guy’. I remember when he arrived in 1986, he was really fresh behind the years and didn’t know a lot, but he said he was willing to work hard,” said Rotrand, whose Snowdon district neighbors Darlington.
“You don’t get elected six times by accident. People know when you work hard, and they know when you return calls and you get files done.”
An observant Jew, Zajdel has been instrumental in bringing the orthodox communities into the political process. Thanking him for his years of service, borough Mayor Michael Applebaum said that Zajdel’s name “was very well known in the Jewish community, not only as a representative of your electoral district, but also someone that stood up for the rights of the Jewish people in the city of Montreal.”
Francine Senécal, his neighbor at borough council meetings, thanked him for the laughs they shared over the past eight years. “If you’ve seen us laughing from time to time, it’s a good sign,” she said.
Zajdel said he’s “more than content, thank god, with the six successful terms I believe I’ve had as a city councillor,” and is eager to see the upgrade work on Victoria Ave. completed before he goes.
“That’s going to be a good legacy for the neighborhood. Happy with that. Three million bucks from centre city is not something that was easily acquired,” he said.
Warren Allmand said he always appreciated Zajdel’s good humor and good judgment, even though they only shared one term in office.
“And Saulie, maybe next year, the both of us will be on the other side of the table when we’re not happy with the council.”
“Don’t count on it.”

[ Iuliana Petrescu ]

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