Nanaimo’s long-serving MLA will seek the mayor’s chair.
NDP MLA Leonard Krog announced Wednesday evening that he will run for mayor of Nanaimo in this fall’s local government election.
“I haven’t felt this enthusiastic about something for awhile, to be honest,” said Krog.
He said he’d been musing about a mayoral bid for a couple of years, but it was the fact that so many people asked him to run – people from across the political spectrum, he said, people who knew him well and people who didn’t.
“They felt that I was the person who could bring people together and that’s the theme of the campaign. It is about bringing people together for change,” he said.
Krog was also persuaded by potential city council candidates who will now be willing to put their names forward.
“People who I respect, regardless of their politics but who I knew would be first-rate councillors, said, ‘if you will run for mayor, I will run for council,’” he said. “That was certainly an important factor.”
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) June 13, 2018
Krog said the city’s reputation has been diminished the last three and a half years and went so far as to say Nanaimo has been “a bit of a laughingstock” at times.
“That’s the bad news. The good news is it is also a wonderful opportunity and there has been an incredible increase, I think, in civic engagement,” Krog said. “People who weren’t paying a lot of attention to local politics are paying attention now.”
He said the “event centre fiasco,” for example, showed that city councillors were “out-of-touch and not willing to listen to people.”
A new council under his leadership would need to get up to speed on the job and hire a permanent chief administrative officer who can help attract and retain good managers at city hall, he said.
A downtown transportation hub should be an obvious priority in a modern city, he said, and he mentioned that council needs to show fortitude with social housing projects so it doesn’t miss out on any more provincial funding.
As far as the logistics of his campaign, Krog said he will continue to serve as MLA, but will request to stop drawing his salary once the civic election campaign officially begins. If he wins, he will resign his seat; if not, the 65-year-old will serve out the rest of his term.
He said that though he recognizes a lot of the city’s work is around zoning, roads, garbage, sewer and the like, “one of the great joys of municipal politics is that if you work with a good group of people, people who put the community first, you can accomplish a lot.”
That’s part of the appeal, Krog suggested – making a difference in his community in a different way than through representation in the legislature, where he has served since 2005.
“I’m effective in that forum in terms of being able to make speeches and criticize and put forward ideas and amuse and all those things, and that’s lovely. But it is ultimately an atmosphere where the game is played with set rules and it is about conflict and we’ve seen what conflict has [done] these last three and a half years,” he said. “I want to work in an environment where whatever leadership skills I have and can bring to this, I can work with a team to make things happen. I want to move us forward. I want to make progress. I want to make change. I want to see this community develop in the way that it should.”