In an expected move, David Raven confirmed he is seeking re-election for a third term as mayor of Revelstoke.
“I’d like to continue on the work I’ve got started here,” he told the Times Review in an interview Monday morning after returning from the Union of BC Municipalities conference in Whister. “There’s things particularly around fiscal prudence, addressing debt and building up reserves that I’d like to complete.”
Raven has been mayor since 2008 when he won a three-way election battle against Bill MacFarlane and Matt Singh. Prior to that he was a councillor for 1.5 years. He was the manager of the Columbia Forest District for 20 years until he was let go as part of a restructuring in 2010.
He was acclaimed as mayor in 2011 after no one ran against him. This time he will face a battle against Mark McKeee, his predecessor as mayor.
Raven’s two terms as mayor have seen some controversy. In his first term, the city, led by former planning director John Guenther, embarked on several ambitious planning exercises that were predicated on explosive resort growth. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on plans that were either canceled or remain in draft form. As well, big money was borrowed for infrastructure projects.
Raven was also knocked for high spending at city hall and increasing debt levels. Business owners complained of high taxes and slow and confusing permit processes. Still, the number of business licenses issued by the city has grown and hotel revenues have increased since 2008.
The annual financial reports from finance director Graham Inglis grew increasingly dire.
Last year the city changed course when Guenther resigned and a restructuring began at city hall. The last two budgets have had more of a focus on lowering debt and building up reserves.
Raven said he thinks the city “is in fairly good fiscal shape.”
“The reports will show a big decrease in the debt we’ve got and at the same we’ll be able to build reserves,” he said, referring to 2014. “Reserves allow us to complete projects without having to borrow into the future and provide a conservative buffer for future operations.”
When asked about his accomplishments, Raven pointed to infrastructure investments, the growth of the resort, social initiatives and supporting to the economy.
“There’s been fairness in everything that we’ve approached, and transparency. We’ve addressed the needs of the economy in a growing, balanced economy,” he said. “We provided tax relief to Downie when they needed it but they’re now in a position where they’re a very major and successful employer in the community.”
Raven and the current council are being challenged by a slate that is campaigning on better fiscal prudence and a more business-friendly environment in Revelstoke in order to encourage growth.
“What they’re saying is the council of the day is a bunch of spend thrifts and don’t have a clue,” he said when asked about the challengers. “When they get in here and look at the accounts and have to put their opinions and recommendations on the table, it will be a different matter.”
His goals, if re-elected, are to continue to find restraints in spending, address infrastructure and encourage more business growth in the tourism sector of the economy.