Clifford Lee sets sights on re-election

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City mayor already holds term record; also strong options for PC leadership

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the city wasn’t about to proceed on a new water source without having a financial plan in place first. Putting water and sewer rates up to pay for the work was no an option, he said.

In the minds of many civic voters, Clifford Lee launched his campaign for re-election as Charlottetown mayor on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.

In a wide-ranging year-end interview with The Guardian, Mayor Lee laid out an impressive series of accomplishments over the past year and vigorously defended controversial decisions on ditch in-filling, a new well field, infrastructure priorities, water meters and a long-term plan for Victoria Park.

Mayor Lee has been criticized for not acting sooner on a new water supply for the city since it has been drawing near capacity from the Winter River for some time. With a building boom in apartments and condominiums, and the added demand of supplying the needs of large cruise ships thronging the port from May to October, the city's major problem is providing enough water to meet the demand.

Mayor Lee was reluctant to proceed on a very expensive water source project, now estimated at $18 million, until a financial plan was in place. It appears a new federal Build Canada program will launch this year, which is perfect timing for the city and its mayor.

He said ditch in-filling was about installing a storm water system for pre-amalgamation communities and giving them the same level of service as original city residents.

Mayor Lee wisely side-stepped the popular police in schools issue, which has been reduced because of costs. But police services are working on a new operational plan to address a growing drug problem and will likely address the school issue as well.

Mayor Lee will be seeking a record fourth term as the city's top elected official. He first won the office in 2003, replacing George MacDonald, and won again in 2006 and 2010. He already holds the record as the longest-serving mayor in the 159 years since the Island capital city was incorporated in 1855. The previous record holder was T. Heath Haviland Sr., who held office for 10 years (1857-1867) and was mayor when the Fathers of Confederation met in Charlottetown 150 years ago. After that it was rare for any mayor to hold office for more than three to four years. There was a stretch from just after 1900 for approximately 50 years that the mayor held office for two years only.

Frank Moran held a nine-year term (1978-1987) but no one can rival Clifford Lee. An election win Nov. 3, 2014 would give Mayor Lee four more years in office and stretch his record streak to 15 years.

Barring the unforeseen, Mayor Lee appears an overwhelming favourite to win a fourth term. Coun. Rob Lantz had been suggested as a possible successor but it would seem unlikely he would challenge the incumbent. Former councillor Philip Brown, who ran against Lee in the past two mayoral elections, has kept his options open.

Mr. Brown has commented occasionally on city issues, primarily fiscal, where Mayor Lee might be vulnerable. But Mr. Brown will also likely wait on the mayor's official decision before announcing.

The huge variable in play, of course, is who will seek the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. If Mayor Lee has any interest in becoming premier, he almost has to make his move now. If he doesn't go, Mr. Lantz may.

Mayor Lee is weighing his options. He's virtually unassailable if he runs for mayor again, especially since he will be front and centre with many 150th anniversary events celebrating the Charlottetown Conference. That same spotlight might also propel him as the leading contender for the Tory leadership.

Yes, 2014 should be a very good year for Mayor Clifford Lee.

Organizations: Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. If Mayor

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Victoria Park, Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Harry
    January 06, 2014 - 10:35

    I hope Clifford runs for Mayor again simply because He is doing more for this City as Mayor than any other Mayor in our City's History!! No I don't agree with everything that has happened over his terms but in reality there is no way possible of keeping everybody happy all the time!! As for Riley's comment who wrote that article for him?? Keep up great work Clifford!!

  • Charlottetown Proud
    January 06, 2014 - 09:23

    Riley MacTavish is greatly misinformed. Clifford Lee is probably the only politician in this province with any integrity and a great record to prove it. Try saying that about the provincial Liberals (no way!!!) or the conservatives. Vote Clifford back in, he's good for the city.

  • Summerside Resident
    January 05, 2014 - 18:21

    We only wish we had Mayor Clifford Lee in Summerside the last 10 yrs or so. All the wasted money on decisions by our present Mayor Stewart , Deputy Mayor MacDougall, past CAO Terry Murphy would have been avoided because good common sense decisions would have been made. We are talking millions her folks. A few reminders are the Griffin matter, Concert Fiasco, hidden Hoping Report, Smart Grid, making lawyers rich just tio mention a few. Hopfully in 2014 we can get some new blood in council. We the taxpayers are the victims in Summerside. All the best Mayor Lee

  • Riley MacTavish
    January 04, 2014 - 16:17

    OMG! Seriously what is he thinking? Step down and put some new blood in charge of this town. I have been here over 15 years and I have yet to see Mr. Mayor reach any height of political prowess, unless we go back to the great bottled water ban of 2007. Where Cliff though it was a great way to save some money and look good. How about the great idea of the parking meters! Our city purchased 34 units from a subsidiary of U.S.-based Coin-O-Matic at a total cost of $340,000. The old silver and grey meters each cost $375. That REALLY helped out Charlottetown! Maybe though that was a "make work" project he just needed to get another positive press release. Get this clown (that red nose a glowing) outta here already!

    • Get in Touch!
      January 04, 2014 - 21:48

      It is quite obvious that you are out of touch with your own city and its many successes under Mayor Lee's leadership. Perhaps you should pay attention to what is going on in your own community and applaud the efforts of a great city.

    • Barry Lane
      January 04, 2014 - 21:56

      Mayor Lee is a great leader for our city and he deserves much credit. Good for you Mayor Lee. There is a tad bit of jealously in Riley MacTavish's message.

    • Barry Lane
      January 04, 2014 - 21:57

      Mayor Lee is a great leader for our city and he deserves much credit. Good for you Mayor Lee. There is a tad bit of jealously in Riley MacTavish's message.