Incumbent Greg Granstrom will face Kathy Moore for the mayor’s seat in November’s municipal election. Granstrom is in his third term as Rossland’s mayor while Moore is in her second term as a councillor.
Granstrom, 61, said his decision to seek re-election “required considerable thought” given that the term length is increasing from three to four years. “I had to make sure my family was on board and supported my commitment,” he said.
Moore, who filed her paperwork Tuesday, said she has been seriously thinking about running for the city’s top job for the last year, but “I pretty much decided I was going to do it around June.”
Granstrom said he didn’t know if voters would hold him personally responsible for the Jason Ward affair, in which over $180,000 worth of contracts were awarded to the former chief building inspector’s company for upgrades to the arena, without council’s knowledge.
“I can’t affect what people think on that matter. I continue to do my job and think I do it quite well,” Granstrom said. “There are still some matters before the courts, but in general we have an action plan that we’re moving forward with to ensure we do our best to limit any possible errors.”
A municipal auditor general’s report released in the spring found the city’s capital procurement process had been “compromised” and that many transactions they reviewed “did not meet the standards taxpayers would expect of their local government.”
The city is suing Ward, alleging the work his company did was worth substantially less than for what it was paid. Ward is countersuing, saying the then-city manager knew about his company. He denies any fraud or overpayment and claims the city has slandered him.
Moore, who brought the matter to light in late 2012, said she’s pleased there will be a race for mayor this time. Granstrom was acclaimed three years ago.
“It’s better to have two different perspectives, leadership styles, and give residents a choice,” said Moore, who believes her style is “more open and inclusive.”
“Everyone is devoted to the community, but it’s how you come across. I don’t want people to feel intimidated [by city hall],” she said. “I was disappointed we didn’t communicate more with citizens this term, and want to make sure we do a better job of involving people.”
She hopes committees of citizens can work with council and staff to “solve thornier issues.”
Granstrom said if re-elected, he hopes to continue rebuilding the city’s infrastructure. “It’s one of the key drivers of economic development and sustainability,” he said. “Infrastructure investment is key. But we also have to remember cities are more than pipes and roads. It’s also people.”
Granstrom said a key issue over council’s next term is the regional sewer line, for which Trail proposes to build a pipe and pedestrian bridge across the Columbia River. Rossland, however, has suggested there may be more cost-effective options.
Granstrom, who doubles as the city’s regional district representative, suggested his knowledge of the issue would be an asset.
“We need some strong representation to be maintained on that board — people with some historical knowledge of the entire situation so we don’t repeat mistakes of the past,” he said.
Moore agreed the sewer line issue needs to be resolved and said she hopes for greater collaboration with the city’s neighbours.
She also wants to ensure any hiring decisions are made with “lots of thought and consideration” following an “open and competitive” process.
Moore is involved in a novel way to get the community involved in the election process. She is partnering with Thoughtexchange, a Rossland-based company, to give community members input through an online consultation.
Participants were asked three open-ended questions about Rossland and are now viewing the answers and assigning stars to the ones they liked best, regardless of whether they contributed their thoughts initially. That stage of the process runs through October 7.
Granstrom retired a few years ago from Warfield’s public works department. Moore is retired from a career in sales management consulting.
So far only a few other people have put their names forward for office: Aaron Cosbey and Andrew Zwicker have indicated they are running for council.
The nomination period opened Tuesday and continues until October 10. Voting day is November 15.
— With files from Sarah Fox