The race for mayor of St. John's officially kicked off last week, but the competition between the two main contenders has been going on for some time already.

Councillor at Large Sheilagh O'Leary said she believes her outlook on the city will accommodate the changing dynamics.

"St. John's is not the sleepy little town that it used to be — the town that I grew up in, the town that we know so well," O'Leary said.

"We've had an incredible economic boom that we're all aware of, with the oil, the mining technology industry, and that basically puts on increased demands and it means that we have to employ more progressive ideas at our city council — at our leadership level."

O'Leary's campaign slogan "Expect More" is not just a philosophy for her.

"I believe that we can expect more. I believe that we can do much better," she said.

"I think that we don't have to reinvent the wheel … we can look at best practices that are functioning and working well across North America and across the world."

According to O'Leary, there is a lack of leadership at city hall that she believes she can fix.

Experience and leadership key, O'Keefe says

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said leadership is the driving force behind his campaign.

"My whole campaign is focused on the need for leadership," O'Keefe said.


Mayor of St. John's Dennis O'Keefe says leadership is his priority in the upcoming municipal election. (CBC)

"I think over my 16 years now at city hall and as a councillor at large, as a deputy mayor, and the last five years as mayor, I, and the current council led by me, have taken a lot of initiatives here in the city and I've demonstrated very strong leadership when it comes to all of the aspects of running the city."

O'Keefe said recent rumblings that morale among staff at city hall is low are unwarranted.

According to O'Keefe, the reorganization of the city hall structure was bound to leave some workers dissatisfied, but he said that is the nature or change.

"Change is difficult. Nobody really likes change," he said.

"Not everybody will be happy all the time. I mean, that's human nature, but the feedback that I'm getting not only from people who work at city hall, but the feedback we've gotten from our unions and others at the city is that the city is a good place in which to work."

O'Keefe said he doesn't doubt that O'Leary could develop the skills to become a good mayor for St. John's, but said he has the experience and supports in place already to continue to successfully run the city.  

O'Leary and O'Keefe were featured on this week's On Point with David Cochrane to discuss why they believe they are the right choice for mayor of the capital city.