Describing it as the ‘worst kept secret in town,’ BC NDP MLA Leonard Krog has officially launched his bid to become the next mayor of Nanaimo. Krog will be staying on as an MLA during the municipal election campaign and will only quit if he wins the mayor’s job.
“If I win the election I will be resigning my seat as MLA. In terms of exact timing if it’s the day after or the week after I haven’t even thought that far ahead,” said Krog. “But I will not be taking my salary during the official campaign period.”
LISTEN: Leonard Krog says he’s running for mayor of Nanaimo
Krog’s potential resignation has set off alarm bells in Victoria. If the 65-year-old does step down, Premier John Horgan will have six months to call a by-election.
If the B.C. Liberals are able to wrestle the long-time NDP stronghold away it would lead to a potential stalemate in the B.C. Legislature, with 40 NDP seats, 3 Green seats and 43 Liberal seats. That means if the Greens and the NDP continue to work together, now-independent speaker Darryl Plecas would be required to break tie votes.
“I am almost amused by all the press coverage that would have you believe the sky is falling. I didn’t think there were so many Chicken Littles in British Columbia,” said Krog. “This isn’t a tired old government like the BC Liberals were going into a provincial election. This is a fresh young government. Our leader is popular.”
WATCH HERE: NDP MLA announces shift to local politics
“If it was a real concern I would quite possibly not be doing it, but it’s not a real concern in my view.”
That leader, Premier Horgan, was asked on Wednesday about Krog’s decision. He said he understands why Krog decided to take the leap into municipal politics.
“I know that Leonard thought very long and hard about this. He was overwhelmed from the entire political spectrum from people in Nanaimo urging him, as a well respected member in the community, to step up and help bring stability to the council there,” said Horgan. “I wish him all the best.”
Krog has represented Nanaimo in the B.C. Legislature since 2005. He also served one term as the MLA for Parksville-Qualicum from 1991 to 1996. The former lawyer turned politician was expected by many to be a member of Horgan’s cabinet but was left out in an attempt to provide a more regional and gender balanced cabinet.
“No this is not payback,” said Krog. “But I must tell you my wife is thrilled by the prospect of having me at home. She has had to put up with being a politician’s spouse for 18 years, and I have been loyal to the party for a long time and I have paid my dues.”
Nanaimo city hall has been dysfunctional over the last few years. Tracy Samra, the city’s former chief administrative officer, was arrested in February for allegedly uttering threats at city hall on Jan. 31.
It was announced in May that she was no longer employed by the municipality.
Nanaimo’s chief financial officer, Victor Mema, is also no longer employed by the City of Nanaimo. Mema was previously placed on leave from his duties in March for unspecified reasons.