Four people have filed nomination papers to run for the position of mayor in the upcoming municipal election in November, including incumbent John Ruttan, who is seeking his second term at the helm.
Local developers Jim Routledge and Roger McKinnon, as well as Dan Di Dio are also competing for the position of Nanaimo’s top civic politician.
Ruttan, 72, who said he anguished over the summer months trying to decide whether to run again or not, ultimately decided that the projects he initiated in his first term were too important to walk away from.
“I came with two primary projects in mind and I was very anxious to see a fast ferry established and a conference centre hotel built and that’s the reason I need three more years,” Ruttan said shortly after announcing he was seeking his second term.
“I don’t want to walk away from something that is half complete. I want to (stay mayor) to finish the job and I feel very optimistic about it.”
One key project Ruttan has launched while in office was the establishment of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, an organization that will operate at arm’s length from city hall in an effort to reduce the tax burden on Nanaimo citizens be generating its own revenue.
He said the most challenging issue he has faced as mayor is supportive housing, which has caused controversy in neighbourhoods where a low barrier facility has been proposed.
Routledge, owner and CEO of Nanaimo-based Routledge Homes, said his priority is to establish a footbridge to Newcastle Island as a way of generating economic development through improved local attractions.
“Economic development is first and foremost in my mind,” said Routledge. “My economic development initiative is to build a bridge to Newcastle Island. I’ve been working on this for 25 years. In a nutshell, if you can attract the people the rest will take care of itself. If you can get people moving and over to the island efficiently, it will work. I almost got drummed out of town 25 years ago for thinking about this because it wasn’t its time. I feel better access is being demanded now.”
Low-barrier housing, which Routledge supports, and growth and development, namely through Nanaimo’s new zoning bylaw, are other planks in his platform.
Fellow developer McKinnon said he has helped many people over many years with their political campaigns and says it’s now his time to step up and contribute to the community.
“For me it was the Vision Rally I attended last week,” said McKinnon. “I’ve been asked to run for the past 15 years and I haven’t and the rally inspired me. It asked if you’ve put your time in and I haven’t, I have from the background but nothing else, and I think this is my opportunity.”
McKinnon said Nanaimo has been divided by three different teams — council, city staff and the public — over the years and he wants to see everybody moving in one united direction to improve Nanaimo.
“If we can get all three together we can do a lot of things,” he said.
The News Bulletin was not able to contact Di Dio prior to deadline.
Though not running for mayor in this election, former Nanaimo mayor Gary Korpan announced Friday he will run for the position of councillor. Korpan, who was mayor from 1993-2008, said he is seeking a councillor seat to rebuild his trust with electors.
“To be realistic there is still a lot of negativity from the last campaign and I need to restore trust and confidence in me amongst the voters of Nanaimo.”
Korpan said though he has missed politics for the past three years, the time off has been beneficial for him in other aspects of his life.
“I truly believe that my calling in life is to serve Nanaimo,” he said.
Nominations for mayor and council positions closed Friday (Oct. 14) at 4 p.m. The election is scheduled for Nov. 19.