Les Lengyel is familiar with adversity.
He’s faced it nearly his entire life, ever since an accident left him without the use of one of his arms.
But Lengyel’s most recent challenge – running for a seat on city council – may be his toughest yet.
The father of two adult children, a daughter, 25, and a son, 21, and a trained accountant and retired development planner, believes the adversity he has faced in the past makes him a strong candidate.
“I lost my left arm and most of the use of my right hand in an electrical accident when I was 7-years-old and I have lived my whole life learning to do more with less,” Lengyel, 65, says.
Doing more with less is Lengyel’s life motto and one he plans to use throughout the campaign leading up to the Nov. 15 city election.
Lengyel says the city as a whole needs to learn how to do more with less.
“Part of the plan should take into consideration property tax relief for the citizens of Campbell River. We’ve had years of tax increases, primarily due to the shift from industrial to residential,” Lengyel says. “Working together, we should be able to find other sources of revenue. We should be able to do more with less, utilizing our potential to attract more sustainable business and more residents to help share the load of the property taxes.”
A large part of Lengyel’s doing more with less, involves adopting a greater reliance on the help of volunteers in order to help cut costs.
Lengyel points out that the Tidemark Theatre, Museum at Campbell River and the Art Gallery all have volunteer boards that are extremely effective.
Lengyel himself is no stranger to volunteering. In the past he has served on the city’s Advisory Planning commission, the economic development commission, the help forum, and put in 10 years on the Community Partnership Committee at city hall. He’s also an active Rotarian and served as president and treasurer of the Daybreak Rotary Club.
Lengyel is also a member and former president of the Campbell River Seniors’ Society and serves on the Museum’s board of directors.
But one of Lengyel’s greatest accomplishments is the work he did in the late ’90s in fighting to have the Inland Highway built with four lanes rather than two.
“I was very instrumental in re-instating the four-laning of the highway from Cumberland to Campbell River,” Lengyel says. “After much lobbying, a petition formed which swayed the government of the day to re-instate the four lanes.”
Lengyel said part of his success can be attributed to the fact he’s not afraid to ask the tough questions and doesn’t shy away from controversy.
“I’m not afraid to ask pertinent questions and do what’s right,” Lengyel says.
He believes his experience in finance and accounting will also go a long way.
“I know my way around financial statements and I look forward to analyzing the city’s budget to find ways to do more more with less without any major cutbacks – and that’s important,” says Lengyel, who adds that the biggest hurdle facing the current council is its divisiveness.
“The biggest issue is to create a harmonious and co-operative environment at city hall to show an example to the citizens of Campbell River that we should be proud of our city, that we should be promoters of Campbell River to help attract and retain new and existing business,” Lengyel says. “We need a vision, we need a plan, we need to work together to help make the plan and work together. I have no problem with differing opinions and constructive criticism, but once a consensus is voted on, then we should all have our oars paddling in the water together.”
Lengyel says the city is changing and Campbell River needs good leaders at the helm.
“We need to affect that change in a positive manner and we need to come up with a plan to retain the potential that’s being created by all the new construction, ie. Hydro’s John Hart project, the new hospital and Berwick’s care-miniums,” Lengyel says. “I am a team player and I look forward to working with council to create this plan and implement the plan.”