Downtown businessman Harm Woldring is hoping to give incumbent mayor Jonathan Cote a run for his money on election day.
Woldring, owner of the Wine Factory on Front Street, will be running for mayor in the Oct. 20 civic election.
“First of all, I don’t believe anybody should be acclaimed to public office like this. Why? Because first of all, it’s a public process,” he told the Record. “There’s a lot of emotions tied up in this decision. In New Westminster and the Lower Mainland, we have problems all over the place. They are big problems. Problems with housing affordability, all kinds of problems.”
Through the years, Woldring has expressed concern about a number of issues, including rising taxes, utility fees and user fees, poor condition of roads, rising costs of administration at city hall, and the impact that some projects have on local businesses.
“I fix things. That is what I do. I see things differently than other people, and I see where there is opportunity. I am not calling these problems – I am calling them opportunities,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to do a lot better in New Westminster than we are currently doing.”
While Woldring supports the “rank and file” city employees’ ability to deliver services to the community, he doesn’t think staff in management and senior positions are being held accountable for their decisions.
He said the city is “spending a fortune” on managers at city hall and projects are being mismanaged.
“I’ve got to the bottom of it, and that’s why I’m running,” he said.
Woldring cites delays and cost increases for the Ewen Avenue road project in Queensborough and the city’s handling of the Front Street parkade and mews project as examples of projects that were poorly managed.
“People see problems in New West. ... Underneath all of that is the people problems that are causing it,” he said. “I want to go after the people problems that are causing it.”
Woldring said he’d like the city to hire an outside auditor to analyze how the City of New Westminster spends tax dollars collected from the community.
He would like to find ways to help the city do a better job of including people in the decisions, rather than getting people to provide feedback on ideas being put forward by the city.
“I am not the answer guy. I am the leader who is going to help people find the right answers,” Woldring said.
Mayor Jonathan Cote said he’s been out on the doorsteps since the beginning of August and will continue to put out an intensive platform with lots of different ideas.
“My intention is I want to spend the next two months engaging with New West residents about the issues, regardless of who may be facing me or who may not be facing me,” he said. “We are putting out the 50 ideas in 50 days campaign.”
The New West Progressives electors group opted not to endorse a mayoral candidate.
“We also felt it was very important that we wanted to send the message that our team will work with whomever is the mayor,” Daniel Fontaine, one of the group’s founders, recently told the Record. “If it’s Jonathan Cote, we make the commitment that we will work collaboratively with him. If it’s someone else that ends up getting elected, we will work with that mayor as well.”