Friday, October 17, 2014

For Mayor Mussallem, the election campaign is starting out as one of playing defence

For any incumbent, whether it be the Mayor or a sitting Councillor, the record of the last three years is pretty well going to be the benchmark that most voters use when making that decision as to where to cast their vote.

And during a period of challenge such as the last number of years, that record can provide both a foundation of success for a candidate and at the same time, it can also leave him or her vulnerable to decisions that may or may not have worked out during the most recent term of office.

As the 2014 Mayoralty campaign picks up some speed in these early days, some of those past decisions seem set to provide for the swing of the political barometer for Mayor Jack Mussallem.

While the Mayor points to what he calls generational change in the community and the prospects ahead,  he also has for the most part introduced the themes of experience, leadership and an understanding of how municipal government works into the campaign lexicon.

Those have been the position statements of his advertising campaign in recent months and were noted again as  part of his conversation with the CBC's George Baker on Wednesday.

And while his handling of the City during challenging times provides for the focus of his re-election campaign,  some of the issues that he and his Council have faced are making for some of the flash points in these early weeks.

Three items of note popped up on Wednesday as early campaign discussion points.

The City's legal issues over Watson Island and the ongoing quest to move the industrial site back into delivering tax relief for the population and creating employment for the region.

Another controversial topic that seems to still be resonating in the community involves the start up of the Pinnacle Pellet Plant.

On the latter, the Mayor outlined why the City chose not to take part in the Environmental Discussions prior to the construction and start of operations to the Pellet Terminal. Working instead to use persuasion and the concept of a good neighbour policy to address community concerns over the commissioning of the terminal.

Considering some of the commentary that Council received during the last year or so on that project, we imagine some in the community may question the City's approach on that file.

As for Watson Island, there are still many questions on the mind of the public when it comes to the long running saga of the industrial site.

Wednesday, the Mayor repeated his hopes that January will see some progress for the former pulp mill site, including demolition of some of the infrastructure there and site preparation for future use.

However, the status of the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding Watson Island remain unresolved and information from Council to the public when it comes to developments regarding the site, have been rather limited

All of which could see Watson Island becoming a contentious election topic and one which may yet become a campaign issue.

The third of three focus points for Wednesday and  one that also appears destined to become an ongoing theme for the campaign; is the examination of the current state of relations between the Prince Rupert Port Authority and the City.

A topic which provided the Mayor opportunity to offer up some thoughts to the Daybreak audience, as to how he and Council approached those discussions with the representatives of the region's economic engine.

To refresh your memory on those three topics of note in these early days of the campaign, see our archives of items on those themes below.

Pinnacle Pellet
Watson Island
Port of Prince Rupert

As the campaign moves towards election day, the Mayor we imagine will want to turn some of the focus towards the future, with that prospect of better days to come.

Something that will make for a more positive message for voters that could help give him one more term at the head of the Council table.

Still, issues of the last three years seem destined to remain the focus of those that are challenging him for that post.

How he handles that situation over the next month, will most likely determine whether he gets the opportunity to serve four more years as Mayor.

You can review the work of the Mayor and Council through our City Council Archive page.

For more items on the 2014 Municipal Election campaign see our archive page here.

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