Coun. Fred Haynes wants Mayor Richard Atwell’s job.
The first-term councillor announced Monday he will run for Saanich’s top political job during this year’s municipal election on Saturday, Oct. 20.
With this declaration, Haynes becomes the first publicly-declared candidate to challenge Atwell, who announced his intention to run more than a year ago. At this time no one else has declared an intention to run for mayor.
“The decision to run has been in response to an overwhelming number of requests from people, who I meet in the streets, in the shops, on the beaches, in the parks, asking me to run for mayor,” said Haynes. “It’s actually very similar to why I ran in 2014.”
Haynes is in his first term as a councillor, having finished fifth among the eight elected candidates in 2014, with 13,162 votes.
Before running in 2014, Haynes had held various leadership positions with a list of environmental, educational and community organizations inside and outside of Saanich, including chair of the Saanich Community Association Network (SCAN), the organization representing Saanich’s community organizations.
Haynes, however, refused to say how his mayorship will differ from Atwell’s in policy and governing approach.
“It is very important that we continue with good governance of Saanich,” he said. “I expect to be asked that question a lot, and I will decline answering that question until the campaign starts. Once the campaign starts, it will be clear the differences I will draw attention to between myself and the current mayor.”
The official campaign period begins on Saturday, Sept. 22, and ends on election day, Oct. 20.
With the actual election still nine months away, Haynes said he does not want what he calls “campaign-style conversations” to colour governance.
“From my perspective, the greater danger is interrupting the good governance of Saanich,” he said, when asked about the potential dangers of not drawing out differences.
“Good governance requires the essential ingredients of working relationships, collaborations and congeniality,” he said. “I want it to be about policy and process, not personality, until the election campaign starts. I was elected to be a councillor for Saanich for four years, and I will fulfill my mandate.”
Haynes said he had initially eyed a date near or at the start of summer to announce his candidacy.
“But some people have come up, and they are actually anxious, they are actually worried [about] the lack of certainty,” he said. “Some people are quite worried, and they asked me to put my name forward to run as mayor in the 2018 election, and I have agreed to do that.”
Haynes, a published author who holds a Ph.D. in bio-medical sciences, enters a race with high stakes. Not only is he running against an incumbent, he could also find himself out of elected politics, because he cannot run for one of the eight councillor spots and mayor at the same time.
“A risk in running for mayor is the head-to-head [competition] in a winner-take-all,” he said. “There is only one seat for mayor. There are eight seats for councillors. So mathematically, there is a much greater risk running for mayor than running for councillor.”
But Haynes appears more concerned about practice than theory.
“My next months will be about being the best councillor I can be, and having a continued conversation with residents on what they would like to see in policies and platforms during the 2018 campaign.”
This campaign, he said, would in large part continue to build on his 2014 campaign in terms of issues. Haynes has in the past pushed several measures to promote affordable housing, while calling for greater fiscal responsibility among other issues.