Dick Carpani for Mayor
Carpani fell in love with Sarnia; He came to Sarnia in 1958
Dick Carpani knew he had to get into politics when a teachers' strike interrupted the education of his daughter.
"I started to go to board of education meetings because there was going to be a strike in 1979," he recalled. "And I quickly realized 'these guys aren't any smarter than I am.' So I ran in the next election."
He lost by 50 votes but, showing a determination that's been a lifelong trademark, he went on to win several subsequent elections. In all, he served a dozen years in education, including a stint as board chairperson.
Born in 1936 in Saskatoon, during the height of the Great Depression, Carpani remembers his childhood with surprising fondness.
"We weren't well-to-do, but I didn't consider myself poor." Besides that, he points out, the Depression was over by the time he got to school.
Asked what it was like being a boy of Italian descent when Canada was at war with Italy, he passes up a chance to portray himself as some sort of victim. "There were kids who thought I was the enemy, of course, but not people who knew me."
Besides that, he's always had a strong sense of being Canadian. "My grandfather Carpani fought in the Boer War with the English," he said.
In some ways, he had it better than today's kids.
"Compared to my children and grandchildren, I could do whatever I wanted. You played hide-and-go-seek, or played baseball in empty fields or hung around under street lights. Things were nowhere near as organized as they are now. My grandchildren are supervised all the time."
He thrived on that freedom, excelling in school while, at the same time, developing strong running and jumping skills.
Never afraid of hard work, he held down numerous jobs in his youth. "I worked in a gas station for 50 cents an hour, I delivered newspapers, worked in a bakery, a brewery, on construction and in a milk processing plant," he said.
After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan, he moved to Sarnia in 1958 to work for Polymer.
He only intended to stay a few years but fell in love with the place and has been here ever since.
Carpani can never remember a time when he wasn't busy. After serving on the school board, he spent four years on city council, ran for the Tories in the 1997 federal election and became a taekwondo referee and instructor.
Along the way he's retained his interest in running. When he turned 50 he finished first in his category at the Sarnia-Port Huron Road Race. Along with his son Wayne, he also won the father/child event at the Huron House Boys Home Run.
Behind the scenes, he's constantly helping others. In fact, he's donated blood more than 140 times, has served as a scout master, is involved with a reading program at Johnston Memorial School and has participated in cancer fundraisers. Two months ago he ran in the Terry Fox Run in memory of his sister, Pat, who died of cancer last year.
An avid reader, he enjoys everything from murder mysteries to spy novels.
Although he's 70 years old and a member of the Golden 'K' Kiwanis Club, he's always been able to adapt with the times. In fact, he's been using computers since 1960, when he worked with an IBM 1620.
Along with his wife of 46 years, Donna, he has two grown children, two grandchildren and a cat.
He admits he has a squeaky clean reputation. "I haven't even had a speeding ticket in 25 years," he says. "People tell me I'm too much of a 'nice guy.'" His daughter, he adds, has told him he's too honest to be a politician.
But he doesn't plan to change who he is. "I do not think that being pleasant to people is a bad characteristic for a mayor," he said.
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DAN McCAFFERY Tuesday, November 07, 2006 The Observer
|Date This Page Was Last Up-Dated: November 07, 2006|