A longtime former mayor wants to contribute to the next era of Nanaimo leadership.
Gary Korpan has put his name forward to run for city council in next month’s municipal election.
Korpan was mayor for 15 years, from 1993 to 2008, and said with his experience, he’d be ready for the city councillor’s job from Day 1.
“There’s a pent-up mood for a new council,” he said. “There’s going to be, I would think, a fairly major turnover with new people, but most of them won’t have any experience.”
Korpan has continued to observe city council over the years and has seen numerous problems, saying personal egos have gotten in the way of what’s in the greater good for the community and have led to lost opportunities for Nanaimo. He’s proud of the partnerships that were created and strengthened during his years as mayor, mentioning, as examples, the working relationships with the airport, university and Snuneymuxw First Nation.
“Why should we be fighting when we could have been more efficiently working together as we did in lobbying and advocating for Nanaimo together?” he asked.
He said past councils, with members from opposite ends of the political spectrum, were able to co-operate effectively to go after money from other levels of government that helped with affordable housing. Those sort of efforts are still needed, he suggested, adding that more health, addictions and other social outreach can also help combat homelessness one case at a time.
Good governance is his first priority, Korpan said, and during the campaign he’ll also be talking about fiscal restraint as he favours a “total review” of the current City of Nanaimo budget.
“Right now, what are we talking, $180 million revenue from taxes and user fees in the current budget? I don’t know how many people think that they’re getting good value from that,” he said. “Look at the roads; the roads have been a travesty.”
He said the review is necessary in part because of the continual reorganization of city departments.
“You can’t do a very easy year-to-year anymore,” Korpan said. “What happens sometimes when you get new administrators is that they shift responsibilities and departments and stuff like that because that way you can’t do a comparison to what their predecessors had done.”
Korpan ran for city councillor in 2011, finishing 15th in vote count, and ran for mayor in 2014, finishing fifth. He explained that he didn’t expect to win the mayoral race last time and ran strategically against a political opponent.
Korpan, who ran a law practice for 20 years and had nine years’ experience on city council before becoming mayor, said he finds problem-solving for citizens to be invigorating.
“I’ve been the recipient of so much opportunity in this community and I’ve always felt that things could be better,” he said.
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