The next mayor of Campbell River is going to have “a nasty, demanding job” says Coun. Ziggy Stewart – and it’s a position he wants.
Stewart told the Mirror Wednesday morning he is running for the mayor’s chair in the Nov.19 municipal election.
“I’m taking a chance, but I’d rather take the chance than sit there for three more years listening to the same old rhetoric,” Stewart says. “I’ve enjoyed my time as a councillor but it’s got to the point where I want to make a difference and to do that I’ve got to sit in the mayor’s chair.”
Stewart has spent the last six years on council and during that time served under the public safety portfolio and helped organize the current Future Forestry Task Force.
“I’ve delivered on both of them, no one is more critical of deliverance than I am,” Stewart says. “I feel passionately that if I’m going to take this job on, then you do it right. But that’s up to the electorate if they believe I’ve done a good job up until now.”
Stewart has spent his past term on council trying to attract business. He has been pushing to bring a sawmill or a pellet plant to Campbell River to create more jobs but it’s been a struggle.
“Polarization does the community no good and it sends out a message that Campbell River has problems,” Stewart says. “People watch what we’re doing and if we can’t get our act together people are not going to want to invest money in Campbell River and it hurts all of us.
“We have to attract business back to Campbell River. When we attract business, we attract jobs and jobs are what we need badly.”
The biggest challenge for future councils will be trying to work out a balanced budget, while still delivering quality services the community expects, Stewart says.
“City Hall has to lead by example; many businesses in town have understood what it takes to make it through lean times and City Hall needs to understand that too,” Stewart says. “Our finance department has two excellent people who have come on board and understand what it’s going to take, and we have to be able to listen to them when it comes to tough budget decisions.”
Stewart says when it comes down to it, the job of mayor or city councillor is all about the people who make up Campbell River.
“It’s about the community, it’s not about us,” Stewart says. “It’s always been my pet peeve that everyone’s talking and no one’s listening. We need to start listening and make decisions that way. This isn’t going to be an election about personality, it’s about who do you believe can get the job done. I think my track record has proven I’m not scared to do what needs to be done.”
Stewart says he’s thought about running for mayor for a long time and came to his decision after discussing it with his wife.
“It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly, I’ve thought about it for awhile now,” Stewart says. “When you care as passionately as I do about Campbell River you get to the point where you think being a councillor is not enough to make a difference.”
Stewart figures the upcoming term will be the most difficult one a council has ever faced because of the the city’s financial state, but he’s up to the task.
“Finances, service delivery, core services, will all have to be scrutinized to say the least,” Stewart says. “Having said that, there’s great things on the horizon for Campbell River, whether it be the John Hart Dam project, or whether it be the new hospital project.
“I think the outlook for Campbell River is really good.”
Stewart joins Michel Rabu and fellow councillor Roy Grant as candidates for the mayor’s job.
“I think I can do a better job,” Stewart says. “But that’s up to the electorate to decide.”