Getting the answers from Mayor Wright was no stroll through the Queen’s Park Rose Garden either I will tell you. The response email was not sent properly or perhaps sent correctly but to someone else, and I did not receive it when the Mayor intended me to. After some back and forth however, he did promptly return a call and arrange for a moment where we could go over the responses via telephone. I was pleased that he had followed up to ensure I had the email and impressed at how generous he was with his time. Perhaps he learned the earth shattering importance of this blog from Matthew Laird, a recently featured candidate for council…
Well then, here are the questions and answers, presented as paraphrase, not verbatim:
10-2TF: What is the best part about being the Mayor of New Westminster? What has been the most fun?
Wright: It is really the people I meet and have met in the city. That is the most fun. The best thing is to really move forward on the issues and make a difference.
10-2TF: What advice would you give to any new councillors that may be elected this year?
Wright: For our new councillors, I think it will be really important to listen and learn and get a sense of how things are done before diving into a topic or an issue.
102-TF: What big issue or problem led to the formation of the ‘Voice New Westminster’ slate?
Wright: I think they are basing their campaign on dishonesty. They talk about problems that are dealt with and dissatisfaction in the city when a very recent Ipsos-Reid Poll measured an almost 90% satisfaction rate from the citizens of this city. By all of the meaningful statistics, our crime rate has also fallen and is now lower than at any time in the last ten years.
10-2TF: What kind of administration would we see from Wayne Wright, if re-elected, over the next three years?
Wright: Residents would see the same kind of administration as they see now with an open door policy to anyone who wants to lend their advice or opinions. They will continue to see an inclusive and responsive Mayor’s office.
10-2TF: What role, if any, do you see New Westminster playing as we host the world for the Olympics in 2010?
Wright: New Westminster does not have a direct role in the games but we will have a role to play hosting the world. I have a few surprises that we are working on that will really leave an impression but I won’t be saying anything about that yet. We also have the opportunity at that time to really invite everyone to join us in ‘Celebrate 150’ as New Westminster commemorates our 150th year.
I have a few surprises that we are working on that will really leave an impression but I won’t be saying anything about that yet.
10-2TF: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
Wright: An eagle. I was named as an eagle by the First Nations. The name was a gift and I was honoured by their choice. (Citizens may recall that an eagle illustration decorates the back of the Mayor’s somewhat antique Ford Truck as a spare tyre cover, along with the phrase “Good Bye, Good Luck!”.
10-2TF: There has been a lot of talk in this campaign about the mood or attitude of the various platforms. Some candidates speak endlessly about ‘being positive’ while others have presented a very dark and negative view about life in the city and have suggested that a souring relationship with city staff is an example of this attitude. What do you think needs to happen to improve this?
Wright: If you walk into City Hall –and ask anybody–people will say that it is a fantastic place to work, it is the best and it always has been. We have the support of our staff.
10-2TF: For some voters, environmental concerns may be at the top of the list of issues that are important to them. What initiatives do you propose that might improve our environment?
Wright: Now there we have just completed a study of all city vehicles in use and have some great recommendations on how to better use the vehicles we have for better fuel economy and, where appropriate, to change the way we use some vehicles and change some of the vehicles that we use. Also, we will continue to encourage responsible development in the city and environmental construction methods. When it is complete, New Westminster will have the only gold standard LEED constructed building in British Columbia. We should be proud of that and we will do more in the future. (Note: LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, provides standards for environmentally sustainable construction.
10-2TF: Many voters are most interested in social issues. What do you see as an area for improvement?
Wright: It is our parks, we need more parkland in this city and we are working hard on that for our waterfront. We need to see more amenities like the Civic Center for downtown and investments in other parts of the city. We will have the casino revenues to assist with that.
10-2TF: For business and employment: what is the best way to foster growth in the City?
Wright: We have to preserve the industrial lands we have left and mixed use lands. In the downtown we have seen a real benefit from changing the traffic and driving methods there. Also, while keeping our historical heritage in place, we need to be flexible with the developers that are here to do business in our city.
10-2TF: Thanks for being a part of this questionnaire! I have only one more question. What is something funny about yourself that you could share to help voters relate to you as a candidate?
Wright: I’ll tell you one thing. In the Philippines, in Quezon — our sister city there — the Mayor, Sonny Balmonte, started giving me a nickname, “Sunny Wright.” In parts of the Philippines, they are not as fortunate as here. They paint their houses bright colours to help keep up the spirit and I guess he thought I had a “Sunny Disposition.” Recently, also, Fidel Ramos, the “Savior of Democracy” in the Philippines, stopped by here in New Westminster for a visit while on his way back from Toronto. The Consul General called and asked if I would mind meeting with him and I jumped at the chance. It is great to meet with leaders like that and represent the people of New Westminster.
Well that is it folks. I wish I had something for you to compare it to but only the one mayoral candidate sees the awesome power of the mighty blog, I suppose.