It was only a few weeks ago that Louis Rompre announced on Wakefest’s pirate radio station that he would be seeking another term as councillor – good news, because it implied that the long-time Wakefielder was healthy.
But the Low Down received bad news this week, when Rompre admitted that he hasn’t been feeling good lately, and, after speaking with doctors and family about his Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, he’s decided to withdraw his name from running in the upcoming election.
When Rompre first announced that he would run as municipal councillor four years ago, nobody saw him as a politician.
It was hard to imagine the bohemian candle, music maker and avid Gatineau River enthusiast garbed in a dress shirt and kakis, sitting at a table debating whether or not an Alcove resident should be allowed to build a deck three inches over the municipal limit.
Nobody saw him slouching over a computer, answering mind-numbing emails, glossing over bylaw policies or crunching numbers for his ward at budget time.
Nobody could imagine that the creator of Kaffe 1870s legendary Wednesday open stage nights would be spending his evenings at committee meetings or hosting a hostile info session on La Peche’s light industrial park on a Saturday morning.
But that’s the toll being a politician takes on otherwise regular citizens.
He may not have seemed like the Rompre we all knew, but when it came time for him to go to bat for his village, his true love for the town always shined through. The guy always came out swinging every way he could.
When Wakefield’s iconic swimming rock went up for sale, Rompre tried to get the municipality to buy it and open it as a beach for locals. He couldn’t live with the thought of losing the swimming hole where his two sons, Shawn and Chris, grew up splashing around. He couldn’t go on thinking that the tradition of jumping off the covered bridge – a Wakefield rite of passage – could one day be over. (The idea didn’t stick with the other six councillors, however.)
When J.P. Poulin brought in his plan to open up a Tim Hortons at the entrance of Wakefield, Rompre was there to try to limit its impact on the quaint village. (He and Alcove councillor Jacqueline Lambert Madore put forward a motion to ban all drive-thrus from the municipality altogether, but the two were voted out by the rest of council.)
And as Quebec premiere Pauline Marois tries to stuff her fascist principles down our throats, Rompre stood up against her proposed Charter of Values, calling it “ridiculous.”
(He was planning on pushing for La Peche to be exempt from the freedom-snatching bill, but ran out of time in the current mandate – but it doesn’t matter, since his idea started important municipal discourse on the controversial matter.)
Rompre did some great things on council, but he did great things when he was just Louis too.
Perhaps it’s a good thing he is leaving his post.
He said he needs to focus on his health, and the stress which comes with being a councillor certainly won’t help him get better.
It’s a tough gig being councillor.
Rompre lost his candle business, and even friends became antagonistic towards him because of the politics in this region. But he fought hard for Wakefield and deserves a pat on the back for his four years of service.
He’s also set the bar high, because anyone who takes over his seat will have to be as tough as he was – perhaps even tougher.
There’s less than a week to go before the registration deadline passes.
Who will the next brave soul be?