There will be a race for the mayor’s seat in October’s municipal election in Williams Lake after all.
Former city councillor Surinderpal Rathor confirmed he plans to run for mayor.
“The mayor is the one who steers the administration with his or her leadership,” Rathor told the Tribune, when asked why he was throwing his hat in the ring. “I’ve had a lot of pressure from the community to run. I feel it’s my humble duty to give the community a choice when they go to the polls.”
A councillor for 21 years, Rathor ran for mayor in 2014 against Walt Cobb, incumbent mayor Kerry Cook and the late John Bjornstrom.
Rathor said it wasn’t an easy decision to make because he’s had so much happen in his personal life, but his respect for Williams Lake was the clincher.
“In the last 44 years in Williams Lake I have a proven record of helping people,” he said.
Presently Rathor works as an electrician at Tolko Soda Creek Division, and if elected he plans to leave his job.
Critical of the present administration at the City, Rathor said they “may” have done some good things, but have “failed” in a lot of areas.
More of his concerns will come out in his platform, he said noting he believes the community has not been consulted on key issues.
“It’s our second season of wildfires and the present administration has failed to show any contingency plan to the community,” he said. “We have to work with the provincial government to have some measures done.”
The City has appointed a Heritage Committee, but there’s been no public input, he added.
“Moving the museum is destroying the downtown.”
He also said there’s been no public input on the marijuana issue, air quality or crime prevention.
“We did a forum when I was on council about crime prevention. I think it’s long overdue. We have to work with neighbouring communities to prevent crime and make our community safe.”
Rathor said he’s heard from some people in the construction community he’s known for a long time who have complained to him about the red tape.
“Years ago our city was one of the fastest construction approving agencies. The people talking to me are the people who never complain. If I’m elected I want to address these issues.”
When Rathor was 21 years old, he was en route to Prince Rupert with a friend when they stopped at Lac La Hache.
He recalled something about the region “felt good.”
“Williams Lake became my hometown and it’s where I’ve lived most of my life.”
Looking back on it, Rathor said he thinks he’s done more for the community than he’s done for himself.
“I want this community to flourish and be known, not only in B.C. and in Canada, but internationally. A lot of people have worked hard for this community. I love the people and the environment here.”
Rathor said whenever something needs to be done, he gets involved.
Listing projects he has been involved with, he spearheaded getting a crematorium, the Rick Hansen monument, a new wing at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital, the Stampede campground and paving Mackenzie Avenue.
He’s always lobbied politicians to bring provincial and federal funding to Williams Lake, he added.
“I’m not a card-carrying party member, but I develop relationships with everyone.”
On Sept. 6 Rathor will be awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers for his years of exceptional volunteer achievements in Williams Lake.