Some Halifax councillors begin to weigh mayoralty runs, as one goes all in
Coun. Matt Whitman announces bid as others on council wait to see if Mayor Mike Savage reoffers
At least two Halifax councillors say they are considering running for mayor in next year's election, as one of their colleagues announced this week a full-throttled bid for the municipality's top job.
Matt Whitman, who represents District 13 Hammonds Plains-St. Margarets, announced Wednesday at Grand Parade that he was entering the race, saying he was confident he could beat the current mayor, Mike Savage.
"We differ on some issues that matter to voters," said Whitman. "The history and heritage of Halifax, sustainable growth, the Irving tax break, the delays of getting Uber, yes there are differences."
But Savage, who was first elected in 2012 and won again in 2016, has not yet decided if he will be reoffering in the October 2020 municipal election and does not see the need to make a determination just yet.
"I just don't think running for mayor needs to be like running for president of the United States where you get out so far in advance," said Savage. "I really haven't had anybody tell me campaigns are too short."
Savage acknowledged that some people are waiting to see what he does before deciding to jump into the mayoralty race, so he plans to make an announcement in January or February.
At least two councillors fall into that category.
Coun. Lorelei Nicoll, who represents District 4 Cole Harbour-Westphal, said in an email Wednesday night that she will run in some capacity in 2020 and would be "making decisions" about the mayoralty in the New Year. Her email went on to say that she is satisfied with Savage's leadership.
The councillor for District 7 Halifax South Downtown, Waye Mason, said that he was speaking with residents and supporters about what a campaign for mayor would look like, but "it is really too early to talk about running for mayor."
Mason went on to say in the email that he would not run against Savage because "he has been a great mayor" and looks forward to his announcement about whether he will reoffer.
CBC asked all councillors if they were reoffering in their districts, thinking of running for mayor themselves, and whether they would be endorsing Whitman's campaign.
Coun. Steve Adams already announced on Oct. 18 he would not be reoffering in 2020 and on Wednesday said he would not be endorsing any mayoralty candidates.
Councillors David Hendsbee, Tony Mancini, Lindell Smith, Richard Zurawski, Lisa Blackburn and Paul Russell all indicated they would be reoffering in their districts.
Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin said he would "likely" reoffer, and councillors Bill Karsten, Shawn Cleary and Russell Walker said they were still thinking about whether or not to run again.
While Coun. Steve Streatch has not ruled out running in the next municipal election, he also said he was open to "providing the community with public service in other ways."
The councillor for Bedford-Wentworth, Tim Outhit, said he will not be running for mayor, but did not outline his plans for the race in District 16.
Who might endorse a mayoralty candidate?
Outhit was one of eight councillors who said they will not be endorsing anyone who runs for mayor. Walker said he had "never endorsed anyone in 25 years." Russel said he planned "to work with whoever the public chooses to lead our city."
Blackburn did not rule out endorsing a candidate in the future.
"I suspect a few more folks may enter the race," she said in an email. "I'm interested in seeing the substance of the candidates' platforms before making a decision."
But two of Whitman's colleagues, Cleary and Karsten, have decided not to endorse him.
"I will not be supporting Matt Whitman under any circumstances," Karsten said in an email. "I will be supporting Mike Savage regardless of who is running if he announces he is re-offering, I will do everything I possibly can to get him re-elected."