And then there were three.
Longtime New Westminster resident Jimmie Bell has thrown his name into the ring to run for mayor in the Oct. 20 civic election.
In the past two elections, Bell has ran for both city council and school board. This time, he’s running for mayor.
“I feel that I can get more people interested in council,” he said, when asked why he’s running for mayor. “That’s our big problem. We don’t have enough participation by the folks that own property here and rent property here.”
If Bell’s name sounds familiar that’s because he has ran for mayor, councillor and school trustee in the past, under the name James Bell.
“I think it’s time that we had a lot more participation by the electorate. That’s why my name is listed as Jimmie Bell,” he told the Record. “When you use Jimmie, you honour my mother because that was the name that I had in childhood. When it was James it was mighty serious.”
Bell received 386 votes when he last ran for mayor in 1996, in a race featuring six mayoral candidates that was ultimately won by Helen Sparkes. In each of the 2014 and 2011 civic elections, he ran for both school board and city council – placing 18 out of 21 council candidates and 10 out of 13 school board candidates in 2014.
While the mayors’ council on regional transportation supports the construction of a new Pattullo Bridge, Bell isn’t keen on the idea.
“It’s a wonderful idea – provided the new bridge is somewhere else,” he said.
When a new bridge is built, he fears traffic will come speeding into New Westminster because it will have wider lanes. Instead of building a new bridge, he’d prefer that work be done to extend the life of the existing bridge and large trucks be banned from using the Pattullo and directed to other bridges.
“That bridge is quite suitable for pickups and cars, not tractor-trailers. They can go on two big bridges on either side, but they are not going to do it,” he said. “As soon as the new bridge is in, they are going to swarm it.”
If elected mayor, Bell would like to find a way of moving city hall elsewhere and redeveloping the existing site. He said “it’s a shame” the city no longer owns the Anvil Centre office tower as it would have been an ideal location for city hall.
“We should be thinking about developing that site where the present city hall is,” he said. “I’d like to see city hall become a research centre, anything but what it is, so it would employ people. I just want to see it utilized to generate tax dollars.”
Bell is the third candidate to file papers to run for mayor, joining incumbent mayor Jonathan Cote and downtown businessman Harm Woldring. Nominations for the Oct. 20 set to close at 4 p.m. on Sept. 14 (today).