Andrew Leonard announced on the first day of the nomination period that he would be trying his hand at the race for mayor in October.
Leonard, founder of the coaching organization The Phoenix Loop, revealed the news via an enthusiastic social media post from a sunny Bowen Island location. "I've had so many inspiring, enlightening, and generous conversations about our island and community so far. I'm really looking forward to all those that are coming, and using this campaign as a driver for engagement. The enthusiasm is there," Leonard wrote.
Leonard, a newcomer to the political scene, says for him the decision to run is “all about engagement… It’s about open dialogue and discourse and transparency with the community.”
“I’ve been following issues on Bowen for a long time now ever since I moved (here), and although there’s been some frustration that’s brought me to the table, ultimately I think we’re a small enough community that – it’s not going to be easy – but there’s some really interesting ways I think we can come together to solve the challenges that we’re facing,” says Leonard.
Leonard has spent most of his career in the non-profit sector, particularly working in the human services and community development area with a focus on children and families. He says he’s enjoying his first foray into politics.
“I’m looking forward to the dialogue and the discourse. There’s something about wearing the mantle of candidate that’s put me into rooms I wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise, talking to people that I wouldn’t have got to otherwise. And really plugging into the commonalities of story and vision and experience that make Bowen, Bowen,” says Leonard.
“And already I’ve gotten a much richer understanding and a much richer nuance, even after having lived here for a number of years. And I’d like to see that continue,” he adds.
Leonard has a few areas of focus early in the campaign. “I think everything needs to happen under an umbrella of transparency and openness. I think there’s been some real difficulties from the municipality in the way that our infrastructure troubles have been revealed, and the financial burden that’s put on certain communities and certain local areas, and even the whole island at times.”
The personal development coach also sees the next several years as definitive ones regarding the island’s future. “We’ve seen an explosion of tourism this past summer and over the past years, which is going to necessitate conversations about conscious tourism. There’s going to be the Cape Roger Curtis park and really getting Bowen Island a good deal for that park. I think ultimately it’s going to be a good project, but there is a difference between the types of park that we can have… And then in that there’s also questions of environmental stewardship” says Leonard.
“We’ve seen a lot of growth on the island in the last 10 years or so… there’s a lot of new Boweners on the island and there’s a lot of development and population and tourism to digest. What I’d like to get to ultimately is – borrowing a term from somewhere else, the ‘slow food’ movement – I think we need to get to a place of ‘slow Bowen’, and rest and digest and contain and consolidate,” he says.