Different backgrounds come to the forefront in Nanaimo mayoral race

By Spencer Sterritt
October 9, 2018 - 10:55pm Updated: October 10, 2018 - 5:40pm

The VICC was packed as engaged voters turned out in droves to hear what their mayoral candidates had to say.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NanaimoNewsNOW news director Dom Abassi moderating Tuesday's mayoral debate.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

The Vancouver Island Conference Centre was packed with a councillor candidate trade show and also the mayoral debate.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

NANAIMO — The vastly different backgrounds of Nanaimo's frontrunning mayoral candidates was cast in the spotlight during their recent debate, different from the councillor race where many candidates are running on similar platforms.

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog ran on his lengthy career in politics and his time served with numerous local organizations.

“I've risen to the presidency of virtually every organization I've ever belonged to,” he told the crowd of hundreds at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Tuesday night. “I'm used to working with people and one of the things which excites me about the prospect of being mayor is being able to work in a collaborative atmosphere...that gets this city back on track.”

His opponent Don Hubbard, also a long-time community advocate with a history of business instead of politics, shared a different view of Krog's time in office.

“In governance for a municipality, there is no opposing view,” Hubbard said. “There may be a difference of opinion, but we're all working for the same cohesive group. We don't have them and us. We had (that) recently, we don't want it again.”

The divide between a past with businesses verses a past in politics played out through the entire one-hour debate, hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the voter advocacy group Our Nanaimo.

Both candidates were lively and used the most out of their time as they could, largely avoiding direct criticisms of the other candidate in favour of more subtle dismissals.

They were the most firmly divided over the issue of how to spend City money.

Krog talked about having ample surpluses to be used to crucial projects at the right time and not be routinely spent, while Hubbard said a City withholding funds for an unknown future wasn't great business sense.

“Having a huge bulging savings account is not a good way of ensuring having money,” Hubbard said.

Both endorsed the idea of a public audit to convince the public the City was properly using funds and taking the taxpayer into account.

Questions about the phased dispersal of downtown Nanaimo's tent city, how to introduce more housing stock to the market and make Nanaimo a more accessible city all received similar answers from the candidates.

Though Krog's answers received the most claps and applause during the mayoral debate, Hubbard received the loudest ovation of them all during the closing statements.

Gamely positioned between the two on the stage was mayoral candidate Ray Farmere, who ran on a platform of often turning to the public and soliciting ideas for how to run the City.

“I'd like to help make Nanaimo a better Nanaimo, a Nanaimo for the people that's here for all people and is willing to listen to all people,” he said during his closing statement.

The municipal election is Oct. 20.

You can find insight into each candidate at the NanaimoNewsNOW election hub.


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit

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