LOCAL political veteran Carol Leclerc has announced she plans to run for Terrace mayor in the upcoming November local government elections.
She joins city councillor Bruce Bidgood who earlier announced he’s also in the race for the city’s top elected job.
Bidgood was enjoying an open field after current mayor Dave Pernarowski, who is nearing the end of his second term, revealed earlier this year he won’t run again.
After some thought, and also after letting Bidgood know her intentions, Leclerc decided the opportunity was too good to pass up.
The race would feature two candidates with political party connections in that Leclerc ran as the provincial Liberal candidate for Skeena in the 2013 provincial election and Bidgood is a NDP supporter.
At the same time, Bidgood and Leclerc are close friends from their days together on Terrace city council with Bidgood providing support for her in her 2013 bid for provincial office.
“About a year ago people started asking me if I was going to run, which came as a bit of surprise,” said Leclerc of her decision. She says the fact that Terrace is in an important transition period inspired her decision to run.
“I’m really excited to take on this challenge. I think it’s a pivotal time for Terrace and leadership is going to be key. I think it’s going to be important to work with a number of community partners. I’m certainly not afraid to roll up my sleeves and put in the time and effort to do the job of the mayor.”
Leclerc had previously served nine years as city councillor from 2003 to 2011, but left municipal politics because she said she needed a break.
She returned to politics last year to run in the provincial elections as the provincial Liberal candidate for the Skeena riding and ran a close second against NDP candidate Robin Austin who was elected for a third term.
Leclerc says municipal politics have little to do with political party allegiance, though she acknowledges that some people might believe that come voting time.
“One of the things I liked about being on city council last time was the independence,” she said.
She said that if she is voted in she will seek a “refreshed look at how council does things”.
For now, Leclerc said if elected as mayor she has no plans to leave the post and run again provincially in the next provincial election which will be held May 2017. It takes place approximately a year and a half before the local government elections in Nov. 2018.
“That’s not my intention at this time,” said Leclerc. “My commitment is to the city and that’s where my focus should be.”
According to Leclerc, her connections through her position as the Coast Mountains school district’s trades training coordinator and Northern Health Authority board member will provide a community-based approach to governing.
She said her platform will be focused on big picture planning, including looking at expanding the city’s boundaries.
“It will be a good conversation to have with the folks in Thornhill,” she said.
She added that a union between Terrace and Thornhill might not necessarily mean amalgamation, and could instead be done through “joint planning.”
“We don’t want a downtown that’s weak, you want to have a great plan moving forward,” she added.
Leclerc also wants to concentrate on the redevelopment of former industrial lands located on Keith Ave., now the subject of a city-inspired concept plan just released for public comment. It includes a pedestrian overpass to span the CN tracks at Munroe St.
For now, though, Leclerc is focused on finishing up a Masters in Professional Communication at Royal Roads University in Victoria.
Once she wraps that up in a few weeks she says the mayoral race is game on.
In the meantime, Bidgood has set up a mayoral campaign website containing personal, professional and elected office history.
He already has several endorsements on the site, including one from Thornhill regional district director Ted Ramsey. Bidgood, through his city council position, is chair of the Kitimat-Stikine regional district.
A photos section of the site contains pictures of Bidgood with David Suzuki, former interim federal Liberal party leader Bob Rae, current federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair and B.C. Senator Nancy Green Raine.
Bidgood and Leclerc aren’t the only candidates signalling their intentions for the fall.
Current city councillor Stacey Tyers said last week she’ll be running again.