After seeking a seat on Maple Ridge council in the Nov. 19 election, Craig Ruthven had a change of strategy Tuesday.
Why not seek the big prize and give Mayor Ernie Daykin a run for his money?
“People have lost faith in the democratic process. That’s unfortunate. I want to add some excitement and some life into this election and challenge people to go out and vote.”
He made the decision after speaking with more than 1,000 residents and said it’s become clear to him that many people “desire a different path, a significant change in direction and leadership.”
However, after reviewing the list of contenders and knowing there were other like-minded candidates, Ruthven figured that running for the top spot would spare having to compete against council candidates with the same views.
Those candidates also desire a “major change in direction and emphasis,” while most of the current council, and the mayor, don’t believe that change is needed or possible.
Many people voted for change last election but vote splitting to the right of centre neutralized those candidates, he added.
“Vote for a team capable of effecting significant change – as that change is communicated over the coming weeks,” he said in making his announcement.
But Ruthven, a part-time school teacher who works in Burnaby, knows what he’s up against.
“It’s a very daunting task. He (Daykin) is very well thought of and liked. Even people who don’t agree with him, like him. It’s no easy task challenging him.”
He didn’t want to identify other candidates but pointed out it’s not a slate nor is any group of people endorsing him – but just other like-minded candidates who will become apparent as the campaign goes on.
He apologized to those who were supporting him when he was running for council, who now could support Daykin.
In an election, you have to think strategically, he said Wednesday. “I have met people that I really like and respect … we’re competing for the same spot.”
Neither is he saying all of council should be replaced, he added.
Ruthven said some groups in Maple Ridge are good at organizing and campaigning “but the right of centre they haven’t reached that level of performance.”
During the consultation process for Albion flats last year Ruthven proposed a Whistler-village type concept for Albion flats. Council’s proposal for development of Albion flats is now before the Agricultural Land Commission for comment.
But getting a “critical mass” of significant shopping is more important than where it goes, he added. “If we’re going to have shopping, it needs to be substantial shopping.
“This piecemeal, patchwork approach to shopping, to everything in town, it’s got to stop. It’s not good enough. We’re not living in the 1970s anymore.”
Downtown has been discussed for decades and developers aren’t interested, he added.
While Daykin last election spent about $34,000 on his campaign, Ruthven has “a few thousand dollars” to put into his.
He’s not received any contributions from Smart Centres.
“There are some good people on council and I know the mayor is very well liked but this is a democracy and they’re allowed to challenge and run against people.”
He said he’ll make policy announcements as the election progresses.
For a complete list of council candidates and contacts, go the District of Maple Ridge’s website: http://mapleridge.ca/EN/main/municipal/53563/candidate_information.html