He hasn’t hosted an official launch for his 2022 re-election campaign, but Mayor Brian Bigger has reaffirmed that he will be seeking a third term.
He first indicated as much during a question and answer period that followed his State of the City address in September and reiterated his commitment when pressed by media this week.
“I think there’s comfort for people in knowing,” he said, particularly among those who have been supportive of where city council has gone since he was first elected as mayor in 2014.
“It’s a matter of pride of serving people of the city I was born in, and I still believe there’s much more work to be done,” he added.
“I’m very proud to have been serving residents starting as auditor general in 2009 and being elected as mayor in 2014, so I’d be proud to represent the residents again in another term of council as mayor.”
Bigger is only the second candidate to publicly announce his candidacy thus far, though with the Oct. 24 election still several months away it’s likely more candidates will come forward.
The 2018 election found 11 candidates striving toward the mayor’s seat, which Bigger secured with 14,684 votes, or 28.32 per cent of the vote. His closest opponent was Patricia Mills, who secured 9,746 votes, or 18.8 per cent of the vote.
Homlessness advocate Bob Johnston’s vehicle was recently seen decorated with a sign indicating that he will be seeking election as mayor. Johnston ran for Ward 1 during the 2018 election, during which he earned 1,075 votes to Mark Signoretti’s 2,291.
Although he has yet to launch his re-election campaign formally, Bigger said it’s likely his platform will focus on helping vulnerable residents, tackling city infrastructure investments and addressing climate change and other environmental concerns.
Seniors, he said, are also a priority moving forward, with the $63.9-million Pioneer Manor bed redevelopment project an important project in the works.
Receiving the most coverage in recent months, however, has been the city’s homelessness crisis, which the city has been addressing on a few fronts.
In addition to several efforts aimed at housing the homeless approved by city council in November, a supervised consumption site is slated to open in March and a transitional housing complex for the chronically homeless is expected to open in approximately 12 months.
Bigger, meanwhile, has pushed for provincial funding for some of these projects, which city council has agreed to move forward with regardless.
“Obviously, in making those decisions and with unanimous support on those decisions … I would like to see them follow through to operation,” Bigger said.
On the infrastructure front, he points to a municipal capital budget that has almost doubled to approximately $200 million this budget year, from $110 million in 2015.
“I believe once we kind of shift out of this shadow of a global pandemic that we will see some sort of economic development in our community,” Bigger said, adding that capital investments and various incentives to develop land will help.
These incentives include reduced development charges along major corridors and community improvement plans in the major nodes and downtowns of Greater Sudbury communities.
Various public consultation efforts have been key to moving on various community projects, he said – “talking about the facilities and the assets that currently exist and how they’re contributing in a good way to the lives of the people living in those neighbourhoods and former cities and towns. … It’s a conversation we have been moving forward, and with the response from the community we’ll be making investments in those communities.”
Still in the early days of planning his campaign, Bigger said he has yet to hash out what, exactly, it will entail, but that he intends to run a clean campaign that focuses on policy and merit.
“Our lives continually change and we continue to evolve and learn, and I do think that the experience I brought to the role has proven itself and I do believe that has value and someone who is willing to lead the community as mayor.”
Hopefully, he said, the COVID-19 pandemic clears up by next summer so that everyone’s campaigns can operate to their fullest potentials.
Last month, Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo, who also chairs the city’s finance and administration committee and had at one time considered a run for mayor, announced that he is not seeking re-election.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.