He said it all started with a hunting trip.
Dawson Reeve Lloyd Hodges said his hunting party came out of the bush just three days before the 1961 municipal election to find no one had come forward to seek the reeve’s position in Atwood Township.
It was then that Reeve Hodges said he was approached by three brothers, who persuaded him to run for the job.
"I wasn’t even thinking about it," he laughed. "[But] finally, I gave in."
Reeve Hodges was acclaimed reeve of Atwood Township that first year. Back then, the 75-year-old bachelor (he chuckled he never had time to get married), was working on the railroad. With council meetings slated the first Monday of every month, he worked his schedule out so he could make it to council meetings.
That included getting someone to call the bingo for him at the Legion.
Hodges--one of nine children--lived his entire live in the district’s west end, leaving only when he joined the army in 1942. His infantry unit travelled through Italy, France, Belgium and into Germany during the Second World War.
He stayed with the occupation army for one year after the war ended, then returned to the railroad in 1946.
And though he never really had aspirations to get into municipal politics, Reeve Hodges admitted it got into his blood once he started.
Now 36 years later, it’s something he still has a keen interest in. And he’s planning to seek the reeve’s seat for another term this November.
"It seems like it grows on you," he noted.
For just the third time in 13 elections, he’ll have competition for the job. Eltjo Wiersema--former reeve of both Worthington and Blue Townships (who became a councillor when those two townships amalgamated with Atwood and Dilke to form Dawson back on Jan. 1)--has filed his nomination papers.
"That’ll be interesting," Reeve Hodges noted.
While there have been many changes over the years, he said one term hasn’t stood out. And for the most part, he noted, being reeve wasn’t a hard job.
The big thing was keeping up with the changes, and all the reading that comes along with it.
"I’ve been lucky. I’ve had good councillors all the way," he added. "[And] we’re lucky, we’ve had good clerks."
But things have changed, and Reeve Hodges predicted the upcoming term would be a challenge for councils as they juggled the services being passed on by the province.
The key, he stressed, was not spending any more money than you have--regardless of your annual budget.
"When I first took over as reeve, our budget was way down," he said, with the township having a $19,000 annual budget (it’s now up over $250,000). "If you don’t have the money, you don’t do the work.
"[And] you’ve got to have a good ear," he added. "I think that’s one of the main things: listen more, talk less."