The mayoralty race in New Westminster has been underway for less than a week and it's already heading into space.
James Crosty announced last week that he would be taking on incumbent mayor Wayne Wright in the Nov. 19 municipal election, say-ing the current mayor and council are fiscally irresponsible, focus on big projects and ignore many of the small items that matter to residents. Wright said he has a broader vision of the city and has been working to implement positive changes in the city.
"We are two different people, totally different, how we live, our lifestyles," Wright told The Record. "The only thing we have in common is we live on the same boardwalk."
Crosty's campaign responded by sending out a press release stating that Wright had pulled out the "lifestyle" card early in the campaign.
"Since this came out, these comments are being discussed very seriously by large numbers in the community," said Paul R. Thompson, communications director of the James Crosty election campaign. "We have had numerous calls, emails and visitors specifically displeased by this one sentence. It seems the consensus is the mayor was out of place to bring 'lifestyle' into political debate for mayor."
Crosty's campaign stated that this tactic is typical of politicians who have little else to present to voters.
"I am not sure what about my lifestyle is so different that he felt he had to make comment about it, but if the current mayor would like to discuss it, I encourage him to call me . on the caveat that I can ask him about his," Crosty said in a press release. "What I would like to point out is the mayor has my lifestyle on his mind and not the issues that matter to the citizens and businesses of this great community. There are many issues to deal with, but a good place to start are trains, transportation and taxes."
Wright said the two men are of different ages and at different points in their lives.
"I am a grandfather, I have already gone through business," he said. "James Crosty is in a different mode of his life."
Wright said he believes he and Crosty are vastly different in their attitudes, as he's a positive person and considers Crosty to be negative.
"I am in a different age bracket," Wright said. "Maybe because I grew up thinking you should do positive work, not tear something down."
Wright said he's worked in the business world for many years, and is at a point in his life where he wants to do community service. (Wright's business background includes ownership of a fudge shop that used to be located at Westminster Quay; Crosty and Thompson run a New Westminster-based business.)
"James Crosty is in a different mode of his life," Wright said. "He is more of a negative person than me."
Crosty's press release raised concerns about Wright's financial management of the city.
"But why would the mayor care? Perhaps, if he does become mayor for a fourth term, by 2014 he will leave for Australia - leaving the rest of us to deal with a mountain of debt," said the press release. "After all he moved his business out of New West - why not his residency?"
Wright, who once lived and worked in Australia, said he may indeed spend some time in Australia once he retires. While many retirees spend time in warm locales like Florida upon their retirement, he said he'd likely go to Australia where he has many friends.
"My plan when I retire is to always have a home here," he stressed. "I have my family here. I have my grandsons here, I have my daughter."
Wright said he welcomes challengers for his job and accepts the public's will if voters believe someone else is better suited for the job. However, he believes he has good ideas for the city and feels the current city council has been doing a good job for the city.
"If he can do that, believe me, he will be a shooting star," said Wright, when asked if Crosty could do a better job.
If Crosty is a shooting star, what does that make Wright? "I'd probably be an asteroid going so much higher."
The James Crosty election campaign fully agreed with Wright's assessment that Crosty is a shooting star.
"He is a bright light in the dark space of city hall. Crosty is the future mayor that will shed new light on the compounding challenges that face our city," said the press release. "Once he has resolved the city's train, transportation and tax challenges (to name but a few), he will retire from politics - gracefully. He is quite different from Wayne who describes himself as an asteroid; a lumbering, rolling piece of dirt, rock and ice that roams aimlessly through space gradually slamming into unsuspecting planets creating complete chaos and extinction."
Asked to respond, Wright said: "Shooting stars burn out quick."
Wright was first elected mayor in 2011, after narrowly defeating incumbent mayor Helen Sparkes. He then defeated incumbent councillor Casey Cook in 2005 and Voice New Westminster mayoral candidate Blair Armitage in 2008.
Civic elections are being held in British Columbia on Saturday, Nov. 19. In New Westminster, voters will elect one mayor, six city councillors and seven school trustees.