Mark McKee declared his intention to run for mayor of Revelstoke, seeking a second shot at the job he held from 2002–2008.
“I’m one of these guys that can’t just sit on the sidelines. If I don’t like the way things are going, then I get involved,” said McKee in an interview last week. “That’s the way I’ve been doing everything my whole life. I’ve been watching and I decided that with the new people that are running it’s a good opportunity to bring some good positive change for the community.”
McKee has 15 years of municipal political experience, having sat as councillor from 1990–1999 and mayor from 2002–2008.
He didn’t run for re-election in 2008 and instead ran for the provincial legislature as the Liberal candidate for Columbia River-Revelstoke. He was defeated by NDP MLA Norm Macdonald in the 2009 election.
In recent years McKee has been the chair of the Revelstoke Community Housing Society. He is also the de facto leader of the informal business group known as Focus Revelstoke.
Rumours have been swirling all summer that McKee would be running for mayor, and he said many people have been encouraging him to do so. He said the fact some new faces were running for council factored into his decision.
New candidates for council so far are Scott Duke, the manager of StokeFM; Trevor English, the manager of the Red Apple; Karen Powers, the owner of Conversation’s; and lawyer Connie Brothers.
Mayor David Raven and councillors Gary Starling and Linda Nixon have indicated they will run again.
“Every day, everybody’s asking me,” said McKee. “I had to sit down and go through the pros and cons and where I am in my life and if I wanted to commit. It’s a four year commitment now and it’s a hard one to overcome. It’s a long time.”
McKee said Revelstoke needs a vision for the community, though he was vague when asked about his vision. “My vision is to be proactive, look at the issues and come up with solutions and get things done,” he said.
He said the city’s declining population and high taxes were obstacles to economic prosperity.
“I think there’s a problem with the tax base, with budgets,” he said. “I think there’s a problem with how we attract new people and businesses. I don’t think there’s an open friendly door for that. I think that’s got to change.”
When it was pointed out the city is a finalist in the Small Business Roundtable’s Open For Business award, McKee said that was great, but that “we can do better.”
He cited the need for affordable housing and the problems facing the Big Eddy Waterworks as issues that need to be addressed.
“I look at where’s all the milestones?” he said. “I see signs painted on sidewalks telling you not to walk dogs and skateboards. I see a city hall renovation that was started and never budgeted properly. The courthouse roof. I just don’t think there’s a long-term plan and a long-term vision.”
The municipal election is on Saturday, Nov. 15.