Ward 1 Councillor Michael van Holst may be the latest member of council to enter the London Ont., mayoral race, having announced he is considering a run on his website.
A two-time councillor first elected in Ward 1 in 2014, posed the question to Londoners on his website in a post entitled “Will you help Michael run for Mayor in 2022?”
However, van Holst has yet to formally file his application with the city, noting on his website “I’m looking to see if we can put together a viable campaign to go after the mayor’s seat.”
“I haven’t decided yet, but I would say there are many people who like my moderate approach and have asked me if I would run as head of council,” van Holst said when asked if he would run.
“We all want leaders who will stand up for our rights and freedoms. Whether that leader is me or someone else, getting them elected requires two things: public opinion has to be with you on election day and you have to have done the necessary work beforehand.”
The Ward 1 councillor told 980 CFPL he still taking into account the added resources needed for a mayoral campaign.
“A mayoral campaign takes a lot of volunteers. To visit 10,000 houses is a possibility and I did that back in 2014, but to knock on 150,000 doors is something that requires quite a bit much more.”
The van Holst post comes two weeks after fellow councillor Josh Morgan announced his campaign for mayor. Current mayor Ed Holder announced in May he would not seek a second term and would be retiring from political life at the end of the present council term.
The Ward 1 representative’s time on council has not been without its controversy. Most recently, London’s integrity commissioner found that van Holst violated the city’s code of conduct for his views and action concerning the city’s vaccination policy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
An investigation was initiated in October 2021 by commissioner Gregory Stewart based on formal complaints filed by Mayor Holder and other residents after van Holst spoke at an anti-COVID-19 vaccine mandate rally.
Along with referencing the October 2021 rally, Stewart’s report also mentions van Holst’s creation of the Order of Freedom, a creed that aims to provide an exemption for vaccine mandates and proof of vaccination policies.
When asked about the report, van Holst said it was unfortunate it ended the way it did.
“It was never my intent to have any violations, but I think that’s one of the unintended consequences of legislation. He found that I was undermining the wishes of council, and of course, I believed that the wishes of council were to have both the proof of vaccination as well as the ability for an exemption,” van Holst said.
“I do and will continue to advocate for very important rights and freedoms like informed consent and privacy of medical information.”
If he decides not to run for mayor, van Holst said he intends to run again for his Ward 1 seat.
In addition to Josh Morgan, Daniel Lenart and Sean O’Connell have also filed their nomination papers to run for mayor.
Candidates have until Aug. 19 to file nomination papers. Voters head to the polls Oct. 24.
– with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick and Andrew Graham