MLA Krog says he’ll run for Nanaimo mayor

Times Colonist - - Front Page - CARLA WIL­SON cjwil­son@times­colonist.com — With a file from The Cana­dian Press

NANAIMO — NDP MLA Leonard Krog de­liv­ered a mes­sage of prag­ma­tism and good gov­ern­ment Wed­nes­day as he an­nounced his bid for the job of mayor of Nanaimo.

“You de­serve good gov­ern­ment, you de­serve good lead­er­ship and a coun­cil you can be proud of,” Krog, 65, told an au­di­ence of about 300 at the Coast Bas­tion Inn.

Nanaimo has been be­set by in­fight­ing among fac­tions on coun­cil and se­nior staff, po­lice have been called to city hall, and two spe­cial pros­e­cu­tors ap­pointed to in­ves­ti­gate the con­flict.

Some of the loud­est ap­plause came when Krog spoke about bring­ing a sen­si­ble ap­proach to city hall, fill­ing empty man­age­ment po­si­tions, and restor­ing the city’s rep­u­ta­tion.

“The last few years have been dis­ap­point­ing, to say the least,” Krog said. “We want a com­pe­tent and con­fi­dent city coun­cil.”

Krog, elected five times as an MLA for the NDP, said par­ti­san pol­i­tics won’t be part of his agenda. “I am not run­ning for a party here. I am run­ning for the peo­ple of Nanaimo.”

Nanaimo res­i­dents of all po­lit­i­cal stripes turned out to the event. They in­cluded former may­ors John Ruttan, Gary Kor­pan and Graeme Roberts, cur­rent coun­cil­lor Dianne Bren­nan and former coun­cil­lor Wendy Pratt.

Busi­ness­man Tony Har­ris in­tro­duced Krog, say­ing he has worked “tire­lessly” for the com­mu­nity. “We need to sta­bi­lize the ship, bring peo­ple to­gether.”

Krog’s lead­er­ship style “is what Nanaimo needs,” said Har­ris, who is among the Nanaimo cit­i­zens who asked Krog to run for mayor.

The big­ger ques­tion hov­er­ing over the an­nounce­ment is what im­pact Krog’s run for mayor might have on the ul­tra-tight num­bers in B.C.’s leg­is­la­ture.

If Krog is elected on Oct. 20, the NDP-Green al­liance would be re­duced to 43 seats. The B.C. Lib­er­als have 42 seats. Speaker Darryl Ple­cas was re­moved from the Lib­eral cau­cus last year and sits as an In­de­pen­dent.

Krog said Pre­mier John Hor­gan was sur­prised when told of his plans and tried to change his mind.

“But I didn’t go to the pre­mier to bar­gain, to ne­go­ti­ate,” he said. “I went to the pre­mier to tell him the de­ci­sion I had ar­rived at and I was firm in that de­ci­sion.”

Hor­gan said he wishes Krog “all the best.”

“I know that he’ll be con­tin­u­ing his du­ties as MLA to con­tinue to rep­re­sent the cit­i­zens of Nanaimo un­til the elec­tion pe­riod be­gins in the fall,” Hor­gan said dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Grand Forks.

Krog said he would not take his MLA’s salary dur­ing the of­fi­cial cam­paign, which starts on Sept. 22.

“If I’m elected, I’ll never be tak­ing the salary again, and if I lose, then I guess I’ll be back in the B.C. leg­is­la­ture.”

He would not spec­u­late about who might run for his MLA seat.

“There are sev­eral peo­ple who have al­ready hinted that they’d be in­ter­ested in run­ning for the NDP nom­i­na­tion,” he said. “I expect there will be more.”

Krog is con­fi­dent that the NDP would pre­vail in a by­elec­tion.

“I would not have done this if I thought that this was a seat that was un­safe, that we were go­ing to cause crip­pling dam­age to the gov­ern­ment,” he said. “That’s not the case. This is a pretty solid NDP seat. There’s good peo­ple avail­able. I expect that they would win.”

Krog cap­tured 46.5 per cent of the vote in 2017, with about 3,800 more votes than the Lib­eral.

Cur­rent Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said in an in­ter­view that he is not an­nounc­ing yet whether he will run again, but said he is con­cerned about par­ti­san pol­i­tics at the mu­nic­i­pal level.

Don Hub­bard, former chair­man of the board of Is­land Health, and re­tired RCMP of­fi­cer Norm Smith have al­ready de­clared they are run­ning for mayor.

TIMES COLONIST

Leonard Krog ad­dresses a crowd in Nanaimo on Wed­nes­day. “You de­serve good gov­ern­ment,” he told them.

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