A Nanaimo man was told to quit his grumbling and do something, and so he’s decided to run for council.
Ken Bennett, a 64-year-old care aide, is one of 29 hopefuls running for city council in the local government election Oct. 15.
“Every time I see some of the decisions that are being made by the city council, I just get frustrated sometimes and my wife says, ‘Ken, you’ve got to quit complaining and do something about it,’” he said. “I have that desire because I care. I want to see the city as a nice place to live.”
Bennett has lived in Nanaimo for 25 years and likes to consider himself an ambassador, eager to give people directions or share his favourite place to get ice cream. He’s got an old racing bathtub in his yard that’s been converted into a garden planter.
“The hub, tub and pub capital of Vancouver Island and the home of the Nanaimo Bar Trail. I know the schtick,” he said.
But he feels the city has deteriorated over the years.
“They’re allowing it to become a haven for people to do what they want,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like there’s any community spirit anymore. I know it’s not all the city’s fault. I know the province has dropped the ball on their end.”
Bennett used to work at the old Living Room drop-in space downtown, and said it’s needed more than ever now as he said drug problems and homelessness have only gotten worse. People experiencing homelessness deserve dignity, he said, and he doesn’t think temporary modular housing has necessarily provided that.
As someone who walks or rides his bike in the Metral Drive area every day, Bennett doesn’t like the road reconstruction project there and has had many conversations with other residents who are “livid” about the changes. He said traffic enforcement would have been a more sensible way to slow down vehicle speeds on Metral.
He said he hasn’t gotten a grasp on the city’s doughnut economic framework – “I don’t get it, I’m just a regular person,” he said – but he used to be on the Hospital Employees’ Union provincial executive and is comfortable around the board table.
“I know what budgets are like, I’ve seen that in action,” he said. “Seeing numbers doesn’t scare me because I’m good with math.”
He said mentorship is an aspect of leadership that he enjoys, but he also feels he’s never too old to learn. He’s close to retirement age in his career, but is willing to work for his city and thinks he has something to bring to council.
“Their priorities seem to be out of line and they need somebody to go in and stabilize it and I think I’m a stabilizing factor,” he said.
Anyone running for mayor or councillor in the City of Nanaimo or the District of Lantzville, regional director in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Area A, B, C or E, or school trustee in School District 68 is asked to contact the Nanaimo News Bulletin to set up an interview or invite us to a campaign launch event. Phone Greg Sakaki at 250-734-4621 or e-mail email@example.com.
ELECTION 2022: Candidates in Nanaimo, Lantzville, RDN and SD68