Her first term on city council was trying and truncated, but Wendy Pratt wants to give it another go.
Pratt, who was elected to Nanaimo city council in 2014 and resigned in April 2017, has decided to put her name forward to try to return to the council table.
“After much, much agonizing, I have decided, you know what? I’m going to give it one more try and see,” she said.
Pratt’s resignation came after a February 2017 incident, captured on video, in which she appeared to knock a cellphone out of the hand of former chief administrative officer Tracy Samra, leading to a complaint of physical assault.
“When certain things came out, I had a lot of people in the community that continued to support me. They knew me. They knew what I was capable of and what I wasn’t capable of,” Pratt said.
She said it was a “devastating” time for her but also a time when she experienced “overwhelming” and humbling support from the community. She made the decision herself to resign and she says it was the right decision, because it wasn’t possible for her to continue on “in the climate at that time” and do what she had been elected to do.
“I just feel so much stronger now as a result of this,” Pratt said. “I did have to look at my own piece in this. I did have to examine myself and say, OK, did I play a part in this, and if I did, then what do I need to change?”
Pratt is disappointed that members of the media are focusing on one incident from a year and a half ago.
“It’s done. I just want to move on and if people aren’t going to let me do that, then OK, I guess I’ll accept that and I’ll find another way to be useful to my community,” she said, adding that a return to council “is something I really, really want to do.”
At first, when people urged Pratt to run, she always said no, but then in recent months seven or eight council candidates came to her for advice.
“There was a sense of excitement around the subject for me. I talked passionately about it, and they picked up on that,” Pratt said. “I learned a lot more than I realized I had in my time on council. It made me very committed to my community. It made me very passionate about the issues. And I still feel like I have a lot to give.”
Pratt said the city’s potential for economic prosperity has been harmed by the loss of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association and Tourism Nanaimo in its former structure. She’s seen a general breakdown in community partnerships that will take hard work to restore, and she suggested there also needs to be hiring and relationship-building at city hall after significant staff and management turnover the past few years. The current city committee system, she said, is not working, and she favours the previous model where she suggested the committees were better structured, supported and valued. Affordable housing, homelessness and Discontent City will take made-in-Nanaimo solutions, said Pratt, but will require communication and co-operation with the provincial government and also taking better advantage of some of the ideas and strategies that already exist.
Pratt said looking back, the last city council got off track and “there were some factions that made it impossible for us to move forward,” but said she won’t point fingers or name names.
She said she wouldn’t be running if she didn’t believe that the City of Nanaimo will have a better-functioning council after the Oct. 20 election.
“Nanaimo has a chance to reset and rebuild. We must reset and rebuild,” Pratt said. “That’s part of what’s motivating me.”
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