Dean Fortin … he's in

More join Victoria mayor’s race as municipal election heats up

Incumbent Dean Fortin faces challenge from Lisa Helps, Ida Chong, and a clown

Dean Fortin will have plenty of company during this fall’s municipal election.

Fortin announced Friday he will seek his third term as mayor. Also in the running are former B.C. cabinet minister Ida Chong, city councillor Lisa Helps and Chances the Clown.

“I’m in. I’m ready. I’m eager,” Fortin told local media.

Over the last term, Fortin worked toward more affordable housing, the complex issue of homelessness, sustainable growth, supporting downtown and advancing a transportation strategy for the region.

“Together, with the citizens of Victoria, we’ve built an amazing city over the last six years,” Fortin, 55, said.

“We’ve really moved this city forward and now with this economic recovery, things are getting much better. We need to keep this going.”

Fortin became the 51st Mayor of Victoria when he was elected In November 2008, and was sworn into office for a second term on Dec. 8, 2011.

He is married with two children and lives in Oaklands.

•••

Former B.C. cabinet minister Ida Chong made it official last Thursday after weeks of speculation on whether she would run.

“There’s only one capital in British Columbia and it’s Victoria. I’m proud of our city and can see its amazing potential everyday,” said Chong to a full house of supporters at the Steamship Grill and Bar Restaurant.

Chong promised to:

• Freeze property tax rates for four years

• Invest in critical infrastructure

• Fix Blue Bridge boondoogle

• Solve sewage standoff

Chong has been in politics since 1993 when she was elected as a municipal councillor for the District of Saanich. In 1996, Chong made the provincial politics where she held several cabinet post before being defeated last year.

Following her election defeat, she left the question what she would do next unanswered – until now.

There has been a lot of speculation in recent weeks that Chong was being lobbied by the business community, but she said that she was asked by many different groups to consider running.

“I believe Victoria is the heart of this region and there needs to be leadership – people who spend every moment of their day thinking about how to make Victoria succeed,” Chong said.

“Victoria is at a crossroads. We can turn away and let the status quo carry on or we can demand action.

“Status quo means there is no plan, no plan to carry on economically, There’s no vision, none at all, to invest in critical infrastructure. There is absolutely no fiscal discipline or leadership.”

Chong is a Saanich resident.

•••

First-term city councillor Lisa Helps was the first to declare her candidacy on January.

Since being elected to council in 2011, Helps has often championed the need for greater public engagement on major projects. In 2012, she hosted several open houses where she challenged residents to balance the city’s budget using monopoly money.

“We need genuine, roundtable discussion, people sitting together and coming up with ideas right at the beginning,” she said.

The city’s “risk-averse” mindset is also something that needs to change rather than deferring every decision to the city’s legal department, she said.

“I’m not advocating recklessness, but I am advocating a little more creativity based on what’s worked in other places,” Helps said. “The solicitor’s office is probably the busiest place at City Hall.”

Helps was also critical of the expanding “gatekeeper” role of Victoria’s communications department and said staff need to be free to discuss projects with both media and the public.

The London, Ont. native moved to Victoria in 1997.

•••

Changes the Clown, also known as Rob Duncan, announced his candidacy for Victoria mayor on Sunday.

His campaign is part of Clowns Against Child Poverty — a public awareness campaign dedicated to “talking about the unacknowledged and unaddressed crisis of child poverty in our community.”

Changes is a social scientist. He has a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Waterloo, and is working part time on a second doctorate in political sociology at the University of Victoria.

Municipal elections will be held provincewide on Nov. 15.

klaird@blackpress.ca

– with files from Daniel Palmer

 

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