A Nanaimo city councillor who once infamously told the mayor to “bite me” will seek another term.
Coun. Gord Fuller told the News Bulletin on Monday morning he will be running for re-election as city councillor in the upcoming municipal election on Oct. 20.
“I was having a hard time deciding whether I wanted to run or not but ultimately I have decided that I will run,” he said.
Fuller, who was a first-term councillor, said his decision to run again came down to a desire to see through a number of initiatives made by the current council that at “this point in time” are not moving forward. He said those items include recommendations made in the core services review and the Deloitte report on capital projects.
“The Deloitte report and the core services review, what they did is offer the city a number of options that could save us millions of dollars,” Fuller said, adding that if council implemented the majority of those recommendations it would free up money that could be used to “keep taxes low” and increase services in other departments.
Fuller said another issue for him affordable housing. He said he wants to see the city’s recently released affordable housing strategy implemented effectively and that he also wants to see the city to work more closely with the provincial and federal governments.
Less than a year after being elected, Fuller suffered a heart attack while driving in Nanaimo and nearly died. During his time on council, Fuller helped establish an unsanctioned safe injection site, which ultimately led to Vancouver Island Health Authority creating a safe injection site in downtown Nanaimo. He was also one of seven councillors to sign a letter calling for Mayor Bill McKay’s resignation.
Fuller’s time on council has not been without controversy, which includes heated exchanges with McKay and posting confidential documents from a local law firm on his own Facebook group page.
“Have I done some things that I regret? Certainly, but by and large I think my integrity has remained intact,” Fuller said.
He said he knows his decision to run again will lead to questions about his conduct and behavior as a councillor. Should anyone raise questions about his behavior, particularly around his “bite me” comments during a special council meeting in October 2016, Fuller said he’ll be happy to address them.
“Did I say bite me to the mayor? Yes. Were there reasons for it? Yes. Do I accept responsibility for it? Totally, and afterwards I apologized,” he said. “Would I do it again in the same circumstances? Probably.”
When Fuller looks back at his time on council over the past four years, he said he’s proud of the work that council has accomplished on items such as the Colliery dams and the expansion plans for the Harbourfront Walkway.
He said one of his highlights include being on city committees that included members from First Nations and said he would like to see the relationship between the city and Snuneymuxw restored because it is important for the entire community.
“When the Snuneymuxw took down the flag, that was a low point. They rightfully did so in my opinion. A number of councillors got up and made an apology to them as to what was going on, others chose not to and they took the flag down and we no longer have a good relationship with them … and I want our council to have a good relations with them,” he said.
Another low point for Fuller has been the level of “sheer nastiness” throughout the entire term by all sides of council as well as members of the public. He said that there are people out there who want to see certain politicians “gone” and their reputations destroyed, adding that’s part of the reason he is running.
“I feel I need to stand up and not let them win,” Fuller said.
The current city councillor said he has no regrets with his decision to hire former chief administrative officer Tracy Samra because work such as the completion of the core services review was accomplished, and the culture at city hall needed to change.
“I have always felt that the mayor and the city manager have controlled council and I want to see it change, and we wanted that in part by hiring Tracy, to see council working with the city manager, not just the mayor and city manager controlling the agenda.”
He said senior staff members’ misuse of purchase cards was “stupid” but “not wrong” because they simply took advantage of poor policies that permitted their actions. He said he’d like to see the city implement new policies around purchase card use sooner rather than later.
“We still do not have those changes and we need to follow up with those changes,” he said.
At the end of the day, Fuller said he doesn’t view himself as a typical politician and that if people are looking for a “politician” then they should elect someone else.
“I’ve always been the same guy for 20-plus years, fighting for certain issues in the community … my belief have always been to make this a better community for everyone,” Fuller said.
To read interviews with other candidates, click here.