Despite backing out of the mayoral race citing family reasons, Mayor Brian Bigger said residents can trust he’ll continue filling the role until a new city council is sworn in next month.
Bigger announced he was backing away from the mayoral race in a written statement issued this afternoon, bringing an end to what was until an active campaign seeking a third term.
On Monday night, he participated in a mayoral candidates town hall at the Indie Cinema. This morning, he reportedly attended two community events as mayor.
“During my time as mayor, we have lost my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, a brother-in-law and my father,” he said in a statement to local media. “My mother’s health is now failing and although she would never ask me, I feel that I need to spend more time with her.”
“There’s a bunch of stuff going on behind the scenes,” Bigger told Sudbury.com this afternoon, adding that although his mother would never ask it of him, he knows stepping down from politics is the right thing to do.
“It is a difficult decision, but in my heart I will now be able to spend more time with family, and when family really needs you, the question is, are you going to be there or not?”
There are “no regrets” in the decision, he said, adding he will “continue to support the community as mayor until Nov. 15.”
It’s on this date the new city council is expected to be sworn in.
Bigger has served the City of Greater Sudbury for 13 years, including a few as the city’s first auditor general before his election to city council as mayor in 2014.
“It’s been a great experience,” Bigger told Sudbury.com of his 13-year run.
“It was a huge honour to be the first auditor general for the City of Greater Sudbury and to be the first mayor re-elected.”
He describes his time as auditor as “trying to bring the organization forward from really a small-town view of the former City of Sudbury to operate like the large city that this City of Greater Sudbury now is.”
“The organization needed to grow to match the population, the responsibilities that were taken on with amalgamation,” he said, adding that under his 13 years with the city, several long-term views to the future were established. This includes long-term financial plans, asset management plans and watershed studies.
He also credits an audit he conducted on the quality of asphalt as having an impact felt across many municipalities throughout North America.
On the roads front, Bigger said investment in city infrastructure has increased during his time on city council, from a capital budget of $110 million in 2015 to approximately $200 million this year, including a significant investment in city streets.
“Admittedly, there’s a lot of catching up work to be done, but it was a huge focus while I was mayor, as well as trying to get a handle on all the asset management,” he said, adding that prior to 2009, municipalities did not track their assets.
The Maley Drive bypass project, Municipal Road 35 four-laning, declaring a climate emergency and establishing the Community Energy and Emissions Plan with a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 are some other key accomplishments that come to mind for Bigger.
With Bigger stepping down, he becomes the second member of the current incarnation of city council to not seek re-election. Last year, Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo announced his impending departure, at which time he cited family priorities and a worsening atmosphere around the then-virtual council chambers.
Bigger said he has not yet decided whether he would be endorsing a mayoral candidate, but that he hopes to see someone with a “positive view of the city” to get elected.
“We are well-positioned for the future, there is so much opportunity in Greater Sudbury,” he said.
“If I was to have continued with the (2023) budget, I believe that I would have liked to have seen a budget increase of less than three per cent, and I do believe it’s possible.”
With Bigger out of the mayoral race, it’s down to eight candidates:
- Evelyn Dutrisac, a past councillor in the Town of Rayside-Balfour, and later the amalgamated City of Greater Sudbury.
- Don Gravelle, a man born and raised in Sudbury who currently works in the insurance industry.
- Bob Johnston, an outspoken advocate for the city’s homeless community.
- Devin Labranche, a local realtor.
- Paul Lefebvre, a former tax lawyer and Liberal MP for Sudbury.
- Miranda Rocca-Circelli, the owner and publisher of local real estate publications and the CEO and owner of Creative eLearning Design.
- Mila Wong, a past city council member and retired registered nurse, human rights officer and qualified arbitrator and mediator.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
The following is Bigger’s full written statement:
I would like to share some news with all of you today.
I have been very proud to have served this community for the past 13 years both as Greater Sudbury’s first Auditor General and as your Mayor.
During this time, however, I have not been able to spend as much time with my family as I would have liked. During my time as Mayor, we have lost my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, a brother-in-law and my father. My mother’s health is now failing and although she would never ask me, I feel that I need to spend more time with her.
What I know is that family is the most important thing in my life. I have a wife I love dearly, two amazing children, five beautiful grandchildren and a mother who all need me at this time. For this reason, I have made the very difficult decision to step back in this election.
I would like to thank my wife Lori for always being by my side, all of those who supported me now and throughout the years and the residents of Greater Sudbury for allowing me to be your Mayor. Greater Sudbury is resilient and strong, and I see only good things ahead from this amazing community. It’s important we be positive and forward looking, and see the good this community has to offer