For the first time in nearly two decades, Eli El-Chantiry is not running for a seat on Ottawa city council.
The longtime councillor for the rural western ward of West Carleton-March, El-Chantiry thanked the residents that elected him five times in a statement Thursday, saying it was a difficult decision to make.
"You have welcomed me into your homes, and to your businesses, farms and communities … and trusted me and relied on me in the aftermath of the 2018 tornado, during the 2017 and 2019 floods, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently, in the wake of the severe storm on May 21," he wrote.
El-Chantiry was first elected in 2003. He has spent more than half that time chairing the Ottawa Police Services Board, a role he currently holds.
Before that, he moved to Canada from Lebanon in the mid-1970s, owned the Lighthouse Restaurant in Constance Bay and has been a dedicated community volunteer, according to his city biography.
He singled out his pride in having the Cavanagh Sensplex built and the Corkery and Constance and Buckham's Bay community centres approved for expansion during his time in council.
Eleven of the city's 24 wards do not have incumbents registered, with Coun. Carol Anne Meehan pulling out of her race earlier this week.
There will also be a new mayor, with 11 candidates currently registered to replace Jim Watson. The deadline to register is Aug. 19 and election day is Oct. 24.