Immediately following Mayor Andy Adams’ announcement as to whether he will run again in this fall’s municipal elections, a woman walked up to him and pinned a button on his lapel, next to the Campbell River pin.
The woman turned out to be freeman of the city and former council member and mayor Mary Ashley, who was hoping he will run again. Her button simply said “Andy Adams for Mayor.”
“I saved it from four years ago in the hope that he would,” she said.
Ashley and other supporters got their wish when Adams, who made the announcement late Friday afternoon in the sixth floor lounge at the Berwicke by the Sea retirement community, said he is putting his name forward again.
For his part, Adams was grateful for the support of people like Ashley.
“She has been such a great person and great supporter,” he said.
For a few minutes, it had seemed like he might decide to step down, especially in light of changes that expanded council terms from three years to four. He had alluded to old “Freedom 55” plans he had once had while working in the health sector, hoping to wind down and maybe spend part of his time as a city councillor while in retirement.
“I certainly wasn’t looking to wind up,” he said.
Adams had even hinted he might run for provincial or federal elections, adding he had been approached a number of times, but in the end, after discussions with his wife, he will run close to home.
“We’ve decided that staying local is what’s best for us,” he said.
The room, filled with at least 50 people, instantly filled with applause.
Adams was generous with credit to many people on council and from the wider community who had not only helped him these last four years but during his years as a city councillor or when working with other organizations in Campbell River.
“It has been exciting, interesting, taxing—no pun intended,” he said. “It has been incredibly rewarding.”
He listed many people by name when giving credit. The highlight of the event though came during a brief pause after he thanked his wife. Immediately, she jumped in to say her name, “Karen,” which got everyone in the room chuckling. The running gag for the rest of the event was for Adams to make sure he referred to his “amazing wife Karen” whenever he mentioned her.
Before he confirmed his plans, Adams listed off some accomplishments of the recent council and contrasted it with the sometimes contentious periods on previous council. The more cooperative approach, the mayor suggested, could only benefit Campbell River, as he cited initiatives to attract businesses such as Berwicke by the Sea. He stressed the need for fiscal responsibility and better communication, and how council and staff have been working to change the culture of city hall.
He also talked about the city’s record growth and strong tourism profile, which resulted in the city having the highest occupany rates on Vancouver Island last July and August.
“Campbell River is now actually a city to come to rather than run from,” he said.
He also mentioned how the city has been garnering international awards and how it has been ahead of other municipal governments on matters such as having its financial plan adapted prior to the fiscal year or changing its five-year plan to a 10-year plan to boost investments in local infrastructure.
Other work remains, Adams admitted, such as finishing the walkway along the water, making housing more affordable and continuing to make downtown a desirable place for residents, business and visitors.
Adams moved to Campbell River from Victoria in 1992 to take a position with the local hospital. He became involved with various community organizations such as Rotary and the curling club, before making the leap to city council in 2005. He was then re-elected in 2008 and 2011, before deciding to run for mayor in the last election. He has chaired several committees on city city council and also sits on the Strathcona Regional District board where he has served as a director since 2011.
Four years ago, Adams won a close race for the mayor’s chair, unseating incumbent Walter Jakeway by 4,370 votes to 4,259, while Steve Wood finished third in the race with 598 votes. Adams’s campaign team included former council members Bill Matthews and Roy Grant, who, himself, had run for mayor three years earlier.