ELECTION 2014: John Koury declares candidacy for mayor's chair

North Cowichan's outspoken councillor John Koury is officially seeking the mayor's chair in the Nov. 15 election.

Citing budgetary concerns, high taxes, missed development opportunities, and municipal management issues, Koury is the first hopeful to declare he's running to replace current mayor, Jon Lefebure.

"We need to raise the standard of governance that is currently lacking," the two-term councillor says in Wednesday's press release.

"We need to end political activism at the council table and restore reasonable, common-sense decision making to North Cowichan. Voters are ready for a change."

Lefebure was mum this week when asked by the News Leader Pictorial if he'll seek his fourth non-consecutive term in the mayor's seat he's held since being reelected in the 2011 election. (He was also elected in 2002 and 2005).

"I'm going to make my (mayoral candidacy) decision in early September," he said of discussing another term — now set at four years by Victoria — with his family, while mulling "if the community wants me back."

Obviously Koury doesn't, and he's willing to risk his seat to challenge Lefebure.

"There is a lot to do to put North Cowichan on the path back to prosperity.

"We are punching way below our weight in economic development and I know we can achieve more," his release claims.

Lefebure said he wasn't surprised about Koury's mayoral aspirations that have basically been a poorly guarded secret.

"He's made it clear by his actions," the mayor said of Koury's blunt stances during budgetary and other debates.

But Lefebure declined to comment about Koury's fiscal-management claims in his release.

"It really doesn't make much sense to me," he said of Koury's statement that "we need to set the economic table for sustainable growth. Growth that will provide job opportunities for working families."

Lefebure cited council's tax-revitalization bylaw to spark smart growth and densification by working with developers in the University Village, Crofton, Chemainus and elsewhere.

"We have set the table very well for controlled development in designated areas," Lefebure said, pointing to commercial-condo projects in Crofton and near Duncan, plus Mural Town's new shopping centre on Pine Street.

Meanwhile, Koury — who formerly sought Cowichan riding's federal seat and lost — claims "people are ready to hold them (some councillors) to account for the past three years, and I am looking forward to engaging with the public on my own track record."

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