Voters have more information, now, as they prepare to elect Nanaimo’s new mayor next week.
A City of Nanaimo mayoral debate featuring all three candidates was held Tuesday night at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Our Nanaimo voter engagement group.
Don Hubbard, Ray Farmere and Leonard Krog debated a handful of topics including leadership and homelessness in front of more than 500 people.
Hubbard said he sets goals and helps others achieve their goals.
“We have so many huge challenges in front of us, but I am ready…” he said. “I am obviously not a professional politician but I am a person that has a proven record and can get things done.”
Krog said he hopes voters are feeling the same excitement and anticipation he’s been feeling. He said Nanaimo is ready for change and ready to get back on track.
“This is a wonderful town … and the last four years we have not done with it and created all that it could have been or should be,” Krog said.
Farmere said he would look forward to working with council and listening to what everybody has to say.
“I want to be the mayor who’s here for the people to help the people,” he said.
On leadership, Hubbard said he’s always believed in seeking consensus and doesn’t want a situation where council members are divided into an us-versus-them mentality.
“We had them and us recently. We don’t want that again,” he said.
Krog said he likes the idea of working in a collaborative atmosphere.
“I’ve spent 18 years in the B.C. legislature where if they say it’s black, we say it’s white and then we spend the rest of the day debating that. I want to work in a co-operative atmosphere that gets this city back on track,” he said.
Affordable housing and homelessness came up a few times. Both Hubbard and Krog panned this past weekend’s Schoolhouse Squat, but addressed some of the related issues. Hubbard suggested that with supportive housing, for example, community members weren’t properly informed.
“All the people I’ve talked to know that we’ve got a duty of care, giving people a hand up. But we have to go and talk to the public about this…” he said. “Whether it was the right place or not, it still is a problem when you don’t talk to our taxpayers.”
Krog said he wants to see people housed, he wants to see neighbourhoods safe and he doesn’t want people getting harassed at the mall downtown.
“Everybody wants the crisis of homelessness solved, but I’m not prepared to commit this city to more than its fair share of its responsibility from a legal and jurisdictional point of view,” he said.
Krog added that the province’s request that Discontent City operate during a transition period to new supportive housing is a sensible one. Farmere agreed, saying that dismantling the camp any sooner would be an “injustice against humanity.”
“What would happen if we could put that money towards a better use, towards helping the people rather than starting a civil war with them within our own community?” he asked.
Hubbard said a lot of people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo come from elsewhere and said “we can’t be the saviour of the whole country.” He said he welcomes people who move to Nanaimo.
“But also, you’re allowed to come here whether you’ve got a home or not and that’s a challenge for our culture, our economy and our way of life. I don’t want to be cold-hearted with this, but we really have to be careful we don’t become the place to go to,” he said.
During closing remarks, Farmere said he wants to help make a “better Nanaimo, a Nanaimo for the people.”
Krog said he’s excited by the candidates running for council and feels an obligation to serve as mayor.
“We’re on the cusp of some wonderful things,” he said.
Hubbard said he’ll put his heart and sould into achieving the goals and objectives the next council sets out.
“People can work together on very difficult issues with the right leadership,” he said. “I have done heavy lifting on many occasions, but never did I do it alone; I always did it as a team.”
Kim Smythe, chamber CEO, told those in attendance that voter turnout is only part of the equation.
“This year our theme is vote smart,” he said. “Educate and inform yourselves and reach for the best possible choices when you mark your ballot.”
Previous voter information events:
Upcoming voter information events:
Hospital-area town hall with four Nanaimo city council candidates planned for Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at Windward Pub. With Sheryl Armstrong, Guy Beaulieu, Tyler Brown, Erin Hemmens.
District of Lantzville all-candidates’ meeting, Thursday, Oct. 11, 6-9 p.m., Costin Hall.
Nanaimo council candidates’ meet and greet with eight candidates Thursday, Oct. 11, 7-9 p.m. at Departure Bay Kin Hut. With Tyler Brown, Zeni Maartman, Don Bonner, Erin Hemmens, Wendy Pratt, Ben Geselbracht, Jim Turley, Alexis Petersen.
District of Lantzville all-candidates’ meeting, Sunday, Oct. 14, 3-5 p.m., Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 257.
Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce/Our Nanaimo council candidates’ forum, Oct. 15, 6-9 p.m., Vancouver Island Conference Centre.