MLA Krog says he’ll run for Nanaimo mayor
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.
Leonard Krog addresses a crowd in Nanaimo on Wednesday. “You deserve good government,” he told them.