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Four-way race emerges for mayor's seat

Vance McFadyen and Francois Nantel fill the ballot

Although the race for the mayor's chair in New Westminster appeared to be a two-way race between incumbent Wayne Wright and longtime resident James Crosty, two more Royal City residents stepped up to the plate on the final day to file paperwork.

Vance McFadyen and Francois Nantel are also planning to run for mayor. McFadyen is a longtime New Westminster resident and a nominee for the city's 2010 Citizen of the Year, and Nantel has lived in the city for more than a decade and has run in two federal elections.

"I think I would be a great mayor. I am a good communicator, a good listener. I speak well. I feel things - more from a human point of view," McFadyen said. "I am a different kind of candidate. I am an ordinary guy that has strong beliefs (about) families, morals, equal rights."

McFadyen said Wright is more of a "corporate-minded person" which isn't bad, but he agrees with Crosty that more emphasis needs to be placed on the "little things" such as neighbourhood infrastructure. He believes he will bring a positive force to the mayor's race.

"I don't believe James Crosty is a positive candidate. He is a nice guy, but I don't believe he is a positive candidate. There has been too much name calling back and forth," he said. "I think people deserve another alternative."

McFadyen said the two biggest clinchers that made him decide to seek the mayor's seat relate to the city's sale of the Burr Theatre and the "lifestyle" issue that was raised early in the mayor's race. He was part of a group that proposed a community theatre for the Burr, which the city eventually sold to Lafflines Comedy Club.

"We felt our plans for the Burr were much more in tune with what the commu-nity wanted. No doubt," he said. "I have heard it looks very good cosmetically. It did not fulfill what the vision for the Burr really was."

McFadyen said many community members supported using the Burr for a 500-to 600-seat theatre that offered programming for children, opportunities for community involvement and a full season of plays.

McFadyen, who was the driving force behind New Westminster holding Pride Week in 2010 and 2011, was also concerned about Wright's comments about Crosty's lifestyle.

When interviewed after Crosty had announced his intention of running for mayor, one of Wright's comments was that they were "two different people, totally different how we live, our lifestyles" and the only thing they had in common was they live on the same boardwalk.

In a follow-up interview, Wright explained his comments, stating that the two men are at different points in their lives, as he's a grandfather who's already gone through business and is in a different mode of his life than the younger Crosty.

McFadyen met with Wright soon after reading the comments but wasn't convinced with his explanation.

"What he was really saying is, 'James Crosty is gay.' That is the different lifestyle," he said. "I was very hurt. I was quite shocked. Again, I don't hold any serious grudge."

McFadyen said Crosty and Wright are both "nice guys" who have the city's interests at heart.

"The mayor and council overall have done a good job," he said. "Overall doesn't mean 100 per cent."

McFadyen will use the campaign to highlight issues he believes are important to the community.

"My main focus is on the families of New Westminster, the infrastructure and the amenities for youth," he said. "Those will be the things I will focus on."

McFadyen, who has lived in New Westminster since 1961, said he's contributed to the city in a variety of ways. He wrote a letter that ultimately led to New Westminster receiving a $25,000 donation from Kraft Canada for the New Westminster Youth Centre, and he has been the president of the New Westminster Lawn Bowling Club for three years, a member of the city's licensing committee, a member of the Massey Theatre task force and a volunteer and member at Century House.

"I have contributed some - I know I can con-tribute more if I have the opportunity to be mayor," he said. "I did contemplate running for council. I have been strongly encouraged to run for mayor."

A native of Quebec, Nantel has lived in B.C. for 20 years and has been interested in federal politics since 1993. He ran as an independent in the 1998 federal by-election in Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam and as a Green Party candidate in New Westminster in the 2000 federal election.

Although Nantel is interested in addressing local issues such as transportation, he's also hoping to use the mayor's position as a springboard to other political opportunities.

"It's a stepping stone," he said. "I am not going to go one year, then go off. I am going to go two terms."

Nantel believes that serving two terms as mayor will give him time to assess the will of the entire country.

"Because I am interested in federal politics if you are the mayor, you have connections across the province and the country with other mayors," he said.

Nantel said he's watched some city council meetings and has been concerned that many items are approved without discussion. He'd also like to work to bring more cultural events and sporting events to New Westminster.

"I am going to look after the needs of the citizens - not corporations, not developers," he said.

Nantel said he never considered running for city council, only for the mayor.

"There are lots of things to be done," he said. "From the mayor's chair, it's easier."