Photos of Evelyn Buck that news pieces and a few political “friends” have selected to represent her life after her recent passing are from her later years on council and reduce her accomplishments to being the first female mayor of Aurora, and just plain old.
The importance the possession of certain genitalia has on the mayor’s chair seemed more important to Aurora’s second female mayor than than Evelyn herself as I pointed out in a previous post.
As for age, instead of focusing on one small portion of Buck’s political career we need to step back and see the full arc.
1967-1968 – Councillor
1969-1970 – Reeve
1973-1976 – Mayor
1981-1988 – Councillor
2004-2014 – Councillor
That’s 23 years of service. Not spent in tight succession but spanning 6 decades and when you compare this level of commitment to the revolving door of disposable mayors and councillors Aurora has had to endure in even half that amount of time it is apparent that Evelyn’s service was exceptionally prolific.
Mettle and courage, the qualities that Evelyn showcased in abundance, were also the same ones lacking from almost every other politician over that same time.
She summed it up like this “Politics is not a blood sport. But it’s not for sissies. Shrinking violets need not apply.”. Not that it stopped current town councillor John Gallo. His idea of applying was calling Evelyn and actually asking her to step aside and give the seat she had just won in the 2004 election to him. Yes, that laughable level of white guy entitlement happened.
When Gallo eventually joined council (through appointment, not election) he swiftly fell into the MorMac gang that spared no opportunity to publicly belittle and dismiss Buck instead of working with her to leverage the years of experience that none of them combined possessed. Instead of rising to Buck’s level the bunch of sissies shamefully attempted to bring her down to theirs. Each failed attempt was no doubt met with Evelyn’s signature “Hah!”
Refusing to be sidelined by such a repulsive group of shrining violets Evelyn started a blog which she posted to 4354 times over 13 years. This blog has been dismissed by many as a 4 letter word but became a more powerful vehicle for civic engagement and positive change than anyone could have predicted. Well anyone except for Evelyn that is. I don’t think she doubted that opportunity for a second.
Among the ripples her blog produced was the impetus to start this blog, because I figured if the oldest member of council saw potential in adopting a new technology to connect with her community well then what was stopping me? Following Buck’s lead has been both challenging and rewarding, and helps crystallize how much risk and reward are intertwined.
When I first stumbled upon a piece of Evelyn’s writing I knew right away she chose her words carefully, and arranged them in the way to get the most impact. Adorning her blog she placed the following Dr. Martin Luther King quote:
“Cowardice asks the question…is it safe? Expediency asks the question…is it politic? Vanity asks the question…is it popular? But conscience asks the question…is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right.”
Although Evelyn lived up to King’s words she was great at framing advice in her own, which included this gem:
“My advice to anyone who needs it; There’s no need to plan and scheme. Relax … watch and wait….the opportunity will present itself …. you will recognize it the second you see it. That’s not corrupt. It’s holding your own in an arena of your choice.”
Aurora was Evelyn’s arena and she didn’t just hold her own she owned those who tried to put a hold on her thinking they could one-up her. All who tried were hoisted by their own petard.
There was something magical in watching Evelyn in her element, because unlike her peers who acted from a place of cowardice, expediency and vanity Evelyn wasn’t one to quickly react with word salad responses or selfies to gain admiration and popularity. Years of experience taught her that real policy decisions require both proactive measures coupled with the constant need to change tactics to meet strategic goals and achieve sustainable results.
I noticed that when others in her community passed away Evelyn would take the time to honour them in her blog by sharing tidbits from their friendships or time spent working together.
I fondly recall sitting and chatting with Evelyn one day she invited my girls over for a swim. Afterwards she never failed to ask about my daughters. Amongst all the chaos she was very much at peace that day as was evidenced by her trademark grin.
If you want to honour Evelyn, then save your “Rest in Peace” missives.
Choose the harder path and follow her example. Don’t seek the safe path, the fast path or the path that takes you to empty praise.
Use what little you have at hand to make your community better than you found it.
Most importantly do it on your terms, not what self-important mediocre people and woefully antiquated organizations dictate.
Don’t let those bastards get you down.
Rise to the occasion and question policies, plans and schemes and offer alternative paths.
And, when the opportunity presents itself that no one else sees sport a devilish grin.
In short #BuckUp because there is much still to be done.