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Schubert relinquishing public role

Sequim may have lost a longtime councilor in the just-completed election, but the city won't lose its Santa Claus.

Sequim Councilor Walt Schubert said Friday he's stepping out of public life following his election defeat to focus on personal interests such as fly-fishing.

"I don't know what my plans are except that I'm going to take a few months off for calming down," Schubert said.

"I've been on the council for 10 years, six as mayor, and I've never had a life of my own. I've always had my business and family and public life. I'm going to take time for myself to relax a bit."



Elected in 1999

The 69-year-old Schubert first was elected to the Sequim City Council in 1999, defeating Margie Malkasian to serve the last two years of Tom Mort's position.

He served as mayor from 2002-2007 before being replaced by Laura Dubois following the 2007 election.

After last week's ballot counts, Schubert was trailing challenger Ted Miller for the council's Position 2 seat on the council by 1,457 votes to 810.

He will continue operating his business, Action Property Management, and remain active in community activities - but is not looking for a leadership role, Schubert said.

"My elected public life is over. I want to help with kids and the food bank. Kids are my passion, so I'm going to concentrate on that."



Won't spare the rod

He also wants to use the fly-fishing equipment he bought 20 years ago after moving here from the San Francisco Bay area.

"I'm kind of looking forward to that. Fly-fishing's always been a getaway but I've never done it enough," Schubert said.

"I'm outdoors person. If I have a choice between doing something alone and doing it with other people, I'd much rather do it alone. I like my solitude."

The former mayor and his wife of 36 years, Sherry, raised eight natural and adopted children and just began fostering a ninth, Sequim High School junior Kahn Mills.



Citizens of the Year

The Schuberts were named Sequim's 2008 Citizens of the Year.

The award recognized their involvement with the Sequim Boys & Girls Club and teen club, foster care programs, Sequim Food Bank, the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce,

Sequim Education Foundation, Salvation Army, Sequim City Council, Boy Scout groups, youth sports and portraying Santa and Mrs. Claus.

"Will I continue to be Santa Claus? Absolutely. That is probably one of the funnest things I've ever done," Schubert said.

He actually grew a real beard for three weeks in September to better play the part but stopped because of how it might be perceived during the council campaign.

But next year he will have a full beard.



Has heart disease

Schubert revealed that

part of his motivation for slowing down is having first-stage congestive heart failure that's gradually getting worse.

"There's not much more that can be done for it or to it. I have a good doctor who has helped me lead a normal life.

"I'm supposed to avoid stress and getting tired but I don't intend to let this stop me."

Schubert said he hasn't spoken about his heart condition before because he's not one to seek sympathy.

"I want to say, in the humblest possible way, how privileged I have been to be in public life and serve the people of Sequim for the past 10 years.

"I had no intentions of doing this when I moved here. But the opportunity arose, so I did it and I've enjoyed most of it," he said.



Love the public

Most of the things he gets credit for weren't solely his doing; they included Bill Huizinga, Schubert said.

"I surrounded myself with wonderful people who made me look good. If I had to do it over again, I'd do it.

"I believe that life goes in chapters. I've done this for 10 years and now it's time to move on."

Schubert said he can't see himself getting back into public life unless there were a specific reason.

Asked what advice he would give his successor, Schubert said, "Try to enjoy it and you better love the people you are working for,

the public, because sometimes they will say things that really hurt.

"If you love them, you can get past it. If you don't, it will eat you up."

Reach Brian Gawley at bgawley@sequimgazette.com.

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