Coté to run for mayor of New Westminster

New Westminster councillor Jonathan Coté is rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work as the first candidate to announce his intentions to run for mayor. - MARIO BARTEL/NEWSLEADER
New Westminster councillor Jonathan Coté is rolling up his sleeves and getting down to work as the first candidate to announce his intentions to run for mayor.

Coun. Jonathan Coté wants Wayne Wright's job.

And he isn't waiting around to find out if New Westminster's mayor will vacate the position without a fight.

Coté, 35, declared Wednesday he will run for mayor in the November civic election.

Wright said earlier this week he is still contemplating whether or not to run for a fifth term. Coté said he had a conversation about the election with Wright last week, and "it had come to a point where I had to make a decision."

"I have respect for Wayne and the work he has done in the city, but I feel it's time for New Westminster to make its next big step, especially with a new Official Community Plan and the implementation of the Master Transportation Plan.

"We worked well as a team on council, and I'm proud of the accomplishments as a whole over that time … I think I'm the right person to lead us through those changes in the next few years."

If they face off against each other there won't be any animosity said Wright.

"Jonathan is the best educated, one of the most knowledgable councillors that's ever sat in the city of New Westminster. I can't say anything different in that.

The only issue they've differed on that Wright could remember was approving the Vancouver Biennale putting an art work featuring two transport containers at Westminster Pier Park.

For the voters, he said, it will come down to a choice between an experienced incumbent and a knowledgable newcomer.

Wright said he won't declare his intentions until September, which is when he usually does it. If he doesn't run it will be to spend more time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He said the fire is still in his belly to do the job, citing the work he did as co-chair on the TransLink mayors council transit plan announced last week.

"I've just come off working on the TransLink plan for 12 grueling weeks and we've come off so good," said Wright.

Coté said he's been thinking about running for mayor for a number of years. He is finishing up his third three-year term on council after first being elected at the age of 26. He was the top vote getter in 2008 and 2011.

He lives in Downtown New Westminster with his wife Alix and three daughters.

Along with his duties on council and working for ICBC, Coté recently completed his urban studies masters thesis at Simon Fraser University which he will be defending later this year.

Coté said doing the SFU program has given him a unique perspective on the issues cities face. It also increased his base of knowledge and connected him to some of the more innovative ideas that have been used by cities around the world.

"This is an opportunity to take a leadership role not only in New Westminster but in the Metro Vancouver region," said Coté.

His fascination with cities began at an early age when his father would occasionally take him to where he worked in Downtown Vancouver.

"I was so excited by the hustle and bustle of the big city," said Coté. "I have a huge passion for cities and the ability of cities to be able to tackle [many issues]. Local politics is a good way to actually create the change we need to see in the world."

Coté has received the endorsement of former New Westminster MP and MLA Dawn Black. She has been a mentor for him ever since he went to her for advice before running for council in 2005.

"Jonathan has demonstrated a great understanding of our unique community and the needs and aspirations of the people who live here," said Black in a Coté press release. "He has shown tremendous leadership at the council table and has the experience needed to lead our community."

Coté's mayoral campaign website include this promotional video:

Results of the city council race in the 2011 civic election
(** indicates one of six elected to council)

Donnelly, Calvin 3774
Osterman, Bob 3360
Wandell, Susan VOICE New Westminster 3171
Ashdown, John VOICE New Westminster 2436
Palmer, Gavin VOICE New Westminster 2355
Noshad, David VOICE New Westminster 2176
Bell, James 1164
Krasnogor, Vladimir 1098
Liu, Gerry 1071
Sihota, Harp 905
Mulangu, Paul 693
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