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[UPDATE] New Westminster councillor Jonathan Cote to run for mayor

Jonathan Cote feels the time is right to take a run at being the next mayor of New Westminster. The three-term city councillor will run for mayor in November’s civic election. “I think it’s a good time for me.
Jonathan Cote
The Bailey Bridge, which is currently closed to traffic, is one of the routes in New West that's popular with trucks.

Jonathan Cote feels the time is right to take a run at being the next mayor of New Westminster.

The three-term city councillor will run for mayor in November’s civic election.

“I think it’s a good time for me. I have served on city council for the past nine years. I am at the very end of the urban studies masters program at SFU,” he told The Record. “I think it’s a good stage in my life where I am looking for that next opportunity to be able to best contribute to the city. I think this is that opportunity.”

Incumbent mayor Wayne Wright hasn’t decided whether he will seek re-election in the Nov. 15 civic election. Before announcing his candidacy, Cote informed Wright of his plans to run for mayor.

“I have a lot of respect of the work that Wayne has done in our community. I just think it’s time for New Westminster to take its next big step,” Cote said. “I think we are at a point of transition, and I think I’ve got some experience and some quality, both with my educational background and the work I’ve done on council, to really help New Westminster take that next step, whether it’s leading our official community plan or implementation of the master transportation plan.”

Asked how he would differ from Wright as mayor, Cote said he has a stronger interest in public policy, something he says shapes everything from environmental to social issues.

“When Wayne first arrived at the City of New Westminster, the city really needed someone to believe in the city and someone to help promote the city,” he said. “I think Wayne was the right person 12 years ago to be able to do that, but I think as the city has matured and we are really starting to see some changes in New Westminster. It’s time to make sure we have got the policy work right and that some of those details are taken care of.”

Cote said his campaign will focus on four main themes: building a strong local economy; building a transportation system that works; building a city that cares; and building a healthy, happy and vibrant community. He will be engaging with the community in the summer to develop his official platform.

“I certainly have a lot of ideas about opportunities for the future of New Westminster but I want to make sure that I am engaging with people and touching base with the public about where their desires and hopes are for the future of New Westminster,” he said. “I do want to get that input.”

Cote, who has topped the polls in the last two municipal elections, has chaired a number of committees and has served as the mayor’s alternate on the Metro Vancouver board.

“Working with my council colleagues, we have accomplished a lot in the last nine years and I am proud to have worked with a team that cares so much about the future of New Westminster,” he said. “I bring a collaborative approach to the council table and I know I can build an effective team.”

Cote’s bid for mayor has already garnered support from former MP and MLA Dawn Black.

“Jonathan has demonstrated a great understanding of our unique community and the needs and aspirations of the people who live here,” she said in a release. “He has shown tremendous leadership at the council table and has the experience needed to lead our community. I am proud to support Jonathan in his campaign to be our next mayor.”

To date, no other candidates have announced plans to run for mayor. Wright will make a decision in September.

“I can’t say I am not. My heart is still there. My health is good. I am totally healthy and I am strong in sprit. I haven’t lost any of the fire in the belly,” he told The Record. “What will make a difference is my family. I need that next five weeks to figure that out.”

If he runs against his council colleague, Wright expects a clean campaign.

“I respect the man completely. I think he is one of the best trained, best educated people we have ever had on councillor,” Wright said. “Does that translate into being the right person to lead the city? That’s a decision for the people.”