By Perry Lefko

Nando Iannicca was born and raised in Mississauga and expects he’ll probably spend the rest of his life living there, but the 56-year-old has decided it’s time for a career change after 30 years of working as the Ward 7 councillor.

Iannicca, who made history when he became the youngest councilor elected to Mississauga city council at age 27, is also the first local politician to be elected in the riding in which he grew up and still resides. He announced in January he will not seek a 10th term.

Iannicca is the longest-serving active member of council. He has served on various boards during his career and is the Credit Valley Conservation chair. As well, he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award for 25 years of volunteer service.

He has decided to retire from politics and move on to something else, even though he doesn’t have a job in place, because of “a combination of a lot of things.” Family and financial reasons are the two most prominent.

“Thirty years is a long time in public office and I was a bit of an anomaly,” he said.

After studying and graduating with a journalism diploma from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now known as Ryerson University), he enrolled at the University of Toronto and graduated with degrees in political science and economics. He then studied and completed a Canadian securities course to give him a license and worked for a Bay Street financial services firm. But when the councillor for his riding announced he was stepping down, Iannicca, with the backing of his wife Anne Marie, decided to run for the vacant seat.

“I wanted to be the next Jeffrey Simpson,” he said, in reference to the longtime and highly-respected national affairs journalist with the Toronto Globe and Mail. “That’s why I went out of my way to study politics, study economics. At least you’ve got the base to write intelligently. I speak French, I married a French Canadian. My wife thought I’d be perfect for politics. My family thought I was nuts because I’d just started out in Bay Street.”

“That was 30 years ago,” he added, dragging out the words. “I didn’t plan it that way. I never thought I’d be a politician. I didn’t have the right to think I’d have a 30-year career, that I’d win an election and eight re-elections. I’m blessed. I’ve been so privileged, but I didn’t think it would unfold that way. I thought wouldn’t it be great after a couple of terms as a politician if I could take what I’ve learned and go back into the corporate sector or the media? I’m incredibly grateful for the road not taken. Who would’ve known I’d have a life of such privilege and of the city building I’ve been able to do?”

He cited Celebration Square, the Cooksville Creek Trail, the Hancock Property Park, the Light Rail Transit and Central Park in Cooksville as examples.

“I’m in my mid-50s and if I was ever going to have another career, this is my opportunity,” he said. “It’s my last launching off point. Another term or two I’m in my 60s and (the opportunity) may have passed me by. I do a lot of the nitty gritty at city hall. It’s not the sexy part of the job. Our job (as councilors) is one-third being a public figure, one-third building a city and one-third the actual budget meetings. It’s bittersweet. I’m going to miss it.

“I love what we do, but I think they need to mix in a younger version of me, the person that is 30-35 and is going to devote the next 20 years to the job because there are so many projects that are going to take the next two decades to see to fruition. So why not hand it over now? I announced it early so it would be an open race. I don’t know that you want a 50-year politician hanging around.”