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John Henderson launches re-election bid for Sechelt mayoralty

John Henderson admits he’s made mistakes but says he’s forging ahead and seeking re-election as mayor of Sechelt so his political opponents can’t “derail the progress” made by the current municipal government.

Henderson formally made the announcement before a crowd of about 100 supporters at the Buccaneer Restaurant, just one day before the Oct. 10 candidate filing deadline.

“I don’t want to see the momentum that this council has built up to stop. We can’t afford that,” Henderson told the gathering. “I feel a duty to run because I don’t want to let them derail the progress and the foundation that we’ve built over the last three years.”

Henderson did not go into specifics on his missteps in office, but said he would use what he’d learned since he was first elected in 2011 to help him be a better mayor.

“I know I’ve made mistakes. I accept that. I’ve learned a lot and I’m going to grow from it,” he said.

Henderson and the council have endured their share of controversy over the last term, including high staff turnover in some key district jobs, an ill-fated legal action against the Sechelt golf course over lease fees, and complaints alleging a frequent lack of public
Bruce Milne, twice elected Sechelt mayor in the late 1990s and seeking a third mayoral term, alleged at his Sept. 15 campaign launch that the current municipal government had indulged in “reckless spending” on the golf course lawsuit and other projects.

Henderson, in an interview after his announcement, said Milne’s comments are “more about theatrics than about facts.

“We have a budget, we’ve adhered to it, we’re going to finish 2014 on budget,” Henderson said. “And we have money in the bank. So to say ‘reckless spending,’ frankly, I find that comment reckless.”

Henderson said he looked forward to debating Milne on the issue during the campaign.

In introducing Henderson at the re-election announcement, Sechelt Councillor Chris Moore told the gathering he was very pleased the incumbent mayor was running again.

Moore, who is not seeking a second term on council, said Henderson could walk into a ring of fire with grace, intelligence and finesse. “I’ve never met a man like him,” said Moore.

Marc Sager, a former West Vancouver mayor and a current business partner with Henderson, also addressed the crowd in support of his campaign.

Sager praised what he said was Henderson’s “positive vision for Sechelt,” and described him as a strong, fair and honest consensus builder.

Henderson and Sager announced last month that they and five other investors had purchased for $11.75 million a 162-hectare (400-acre) parcel of land near Sandy Hook. The property, known as Silverback, was to be the site of a massive housing development but went into foreclosure in 2010. Henderson has said he kept district staff informed about his investment and would recuse himself from future council votes affecting the property.

Competing with Henderson and Milne in the bid for Sechelt mayor is current school board trustee Christine Younghusband. As one of just two candidates for the two Sechelt school trustee positions, Younghusband is already assured of another school board term, along with the only other candidate, Dave Mewhort.

Fifteen candidates have signed up to run for Sechelt’s six council seats in the Nov. 15 election.

Successful candidates this year will serve for a longer period than in the past. The provincial government has extended the terms of municipal politicians to four years from the current three. Rik Jespersen

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