Meet Port Hardy’s new councillor

Port Hardy's incoming councillor Leightan Wishart has lived on the North Island since 1990.

Leightan Wishart was officially acclaimed councillor at the District of Port Hardy council meeting Oct. 11.

Wishart was elected by acclamation after he was the only candidate to put his name forward in a recent by-election to replace Councillor Jessie Hemphill. He will take the official oath of office on Nov. 8.

Wishart is almost 65 years old and he grew up on the mainland in New Westminster. He met his wife in Vancouver and in the 1980’s they were married and had children.

At the end of 1989, he had a conversation with Ernie Klassen about a job as the parts manager at E.J. Klassen Motorcade in Port Hardy.

“I had worked with Ernie before, so we talked and then I ended up moving to Port Hardy,” said Wishart, adding that his wife is originally from Campbell River so he had spent quite a bit of time on Vancouver Island on holidays, “and I always said if I was able to get a job on the island I would take it. I got the job and now here we are.”

Wishart officially started as parts manager for E.J. Klassen on Jan. 2nd, 1990. In 2001 he decided to run for the school board.

“I had been involved in the PAC (Parent Advisory Council) at the high school and I had originally heard about some things going on in the school that I wasn’t terribly happy with and thought needed to be changed. One thing lead to another and I decided I wanted to get more involved in the education system, so I ran for the school board and won.”

Wishart originally served as a trustee and has been the Board Chair for the last “seven or eight years now,” he said.

When asked why he decided to run for councillor, Wishart replied that he’s “invested in Port Hardy,” and that he wants to see the town “grow and become more stable.”

Wishart added that there were “some things that previous councils had done that I didn’t agree with, and I thought if you want things to change then you need to get involved and do something about it.”

He stated that he doesn’t have a real agenda as a councillor, “or as a school trustee for that matter. I want to do what’s best for the majority of residents in Port Hardy. I don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. I want to spend money on projects that will help the community and the residents of the community.”

One issue Wishart is interested in is the proposed new multiplex. “The referendum is coming up Oct. 22, and I would like to see the multiplex happen. I think the option of not having a pool facility in Port Hardy could be a detriment to new people moving here, particularly people with kids.”

On the subject of winning by acclamation, Wishart replied that it was a bittersweet moment for him and that he was disappointed there weren’t “more people that wanted to get involved in the community and the major decisions that are made for the community. In my opinion, it was a great opportunity for anybody that’s ever thought about getting into council, because it’s a short term. It’s only half a term instead of a full term.”

As it stands, Wishart can hardly wait to sit in on the meetings and have actual input into the conversations at the council table.

“I’ve been attending the council meetings for the last two and a half years, so I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the community and what’s going on with council and what some of their objectives are. There’s been times I’ve been sitting at those meetings and I had input and I wasn’t able to add my input because it wasn’t appropriate,” he said.

As for the school board? Wishart stated he will absolutely be keeping his position as board chair, adding that he feels it’s very beneficial for him to stay on because he can keep giving “some real input into the decisions that are made within our school district. We have terrific educators in this district who work very hard through some very frustrating situations, and I just want to continue supporting them as best I can so that we can get the most for the kids.”

 

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