Chris Burger will not stand for re-election this fall and he’s endorsing the newest candidate in Parksville’s mayoral race, current city councillor Marc Lefebvre.
Burger and Lefebvre held a joint news conference in Parksville on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s time to turn over a new chapter,” said Burger, mayor of Parksville since 2010, adding that his wife and children have been “very patient” over the years he’s served as mayor and councillor.
Aside from family reasons, Burger said he needs to spend more time at his Meadowood Store.
“We have a busy, growing business that requires more of my focus,” he said.
At Burger’s side during the news conference was Lefebvre, who was first elected to city council in 2002.
He said “fiscal discipline” will be the main plank of his mayoral campaign.
“Decisions on how to spend taxpayers’ dollars have to be made in the context of the biggest bang for our bucks and the relevancy to our city’s ongoing sustainable development,” said Lefebvre.
The municipal election is Nov. 15. Lefebvre joins fellow councillor Bill Neufeld and Antonio Farinha as the only declared candidates for mayor.
Former mayors Sandy Hurley and Randy Longmuir were on hand for the announcement Thursday, along with current Regional District of Nanaimo board chair and French Creek representative Joe Stanhope, who said he also is endorsing Lefebvre, who acknowledged he has a tough campaign ahead of him.
“This is not a coronation,” said Lefebvre, who also had kind words for Burger. “I’m very disappointed Chris has decided to step down but I understand the reasons for it.” he said.
Burger returned the kind words.
“Marc is highly respected, capable and truly driven by his heart,” said Burger. “Continuity is important and Marc is the most experienced member of council — I didn’t want to leave the people of Parksville in a lurch. He is not a person driven by ego and that’s what you want in a new leader.”
Lefebvre said his campaign will “focus on the fundamentals” and “my priority is going to be water.”
He sits on the board of both the RDN and the Englishman River Water Service and has been front and centre in the development of proposed $37 million water treatment and supply system for Parksville and Nanoose Bay.
Another hot topic with Parksville council lately has been permissive taxation, specifically how it relates to non-profit groups like the curling club, which is now being forced to pay 50 per cent of its city property tax bill after being 100 per cent exempt in the past.
“We’ve set down some ground rules and those ground rules are fair,” said Lefebvre. “If I was a member of the curling club and I had to pay 40 cents more a week, I’d be alright with that.”
Of the 13 people who ran for council in 2011, Lefebvre had the second-most votes (1,739, behind Sue Powell’s 1,926).