Two more toss names in for Nanaimo mayoral race

NANAIMO – City councillor Bill McKay and Nanaimo businessman Roger McKinnon announce candidacies.

It’s become a three-way leadership race, with two new candidates declaring bids for the mayoral seat Wednesday.

First-term Nanaimo city councillor Bill McKay and local businessman Roger McKinnon announced they will be seeking Nanaimo’s top leadership job this November. They join Brunie Brunie, who has been without a challenger since Coun. Bill Bestwick bowed out of the race in August.

During their announcements, the two candidates outlined interests in seeing Nanaimo become more business friendly, having council create a vision and teamwork. But they differed when it came to how they view the operation of the city and top tasks ahead.

McKay says he’s been working toward the mayoral seat for seven years, understands how government works and isn’t afraid to lead a team. He also says he comes with a practical business point of view, but understands the city isn’t a business.

For example, decisions like installing building accessibility ramps or audible indicators on crosswalks may not have a return on investment that a business would look at, but there’s a case for the community.

The first-time mayoral candidate said if elected, he’d like to see a program and services review. He is also interested in making social housing a priority, and plans to campaign on issues of efficiency, imagination, focus and co-operation.

McKinnon, who is returning to the race after losing to Mayor John Ruttan in the last election, says the municipality is the biggest business in Nanaimo and has to be run like one, although he says social issues must also be considered.

McKinnon says his first job will be looking at financial budgets and where the city is at. He also proposes to freeze property taxes for two years and look at job creation.

“We just need a change,” he said, for his reason for returning to the race.

McKinnon is an owner of the Old House Village Hotel and Spa in Courtenay, past chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island and a founding member of Vancouver Island University Foundation.

McKay was operations manager at the Nanaimo Harbour

Lynx Corporation and the general manager of SignAge. He has been the biggest spender on council since 2011, according to financial records.

But McKay says the majority of expenses are tied into conferences and he argues he’s probably learned the most.

“You have to take the day off and go outside the boundaries of your community sometime to determine where you are going to go … what the best practices are of other communities,” he said.

Brunie, the only other mayoral contender, has had her name on the ballot in several provincial and municipal elections. She says if elected, she’ll look at a tree-cutting moratorium on developments and make Nanaimo a skateboarding capital.

The nomination period officially opens Sept. 29 and closes Oct. 10. Residents will vote for City of Nanaimo mayor and council on Nov. 15.