Ron Ellsworth says supporters encouraged him to run for deputy mayor
Former City of St. John’s Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth announces his intentions to run for the position of deputy mayor in the next municipal election at the Admiral’s Green Club House Wednesday. He was joined by his wife Paula and children Michael, 21, Stephanie, 20, Maria, 18, and Christine, 14. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The public has asked and St. John’s businessman Ron Ellsworth has answered.
The longtime community volunteer put an end to rumours Wednesday he may join the growing list of candidates collecting on the ballot for the mayor’s chair.
Instead, Ellsworth announced his intentions to run for the deputy mayor’s position, held by 32-year council veteran Shannie Duff who has said she will seek re-election in September’s municipal election.
In February, Ellsworth commissioned a poll of more than 800 people in the St. John’s area asking who they’d pick as their deputy mayor in the election.
And while he never made the results public, he said Wednesday they did form part of the basis for his decision.
“It was some of the material we used to decide what to do. But there was no doubt I would be running for council again — I made that clear election night four years ago,” he said, referring to the 2009 election in which he unsuccessfully ran for mayor.
“I want to run in a seat the general public wants me to run in, and are comfortable with me being in, and I believe my skills and financial accountability, collaboration and community leadership are some areas the city is looking for,” he said, after announcing his intentions at the Admirals Green Club House before a packed room of family, friends and supporters.
Ellsworth was first elected to council in 2005 as a Ward 4 councillor. Halfway through the term, then-mayor Andy Wells stepped down, bumping then-deputy mayor Dennis O’Keefe to mayor, leaving the deputy mayor’s chair empty. Ellsworth ran in the byelection and won.
In the 2009 election Ellsworth offered himself for the position of mayor, but lost to O’Keefe, who is also seeking re-election. He’s being challenged by St. John’s Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary and Geoff Chaulk, a former public and health policy analyst.
“I miss being involved with city council. After I lost the election I was reappointed to several city committees on council so I never really left, but I want to take more of a leadership role in getting involved in our city,” Ellsworth said.
“The deputy mayor’s role I carried out before and the citizens were comfortable with me in that role so I’m responding to people in the public who asked me to do this. So I’m stepping up to take on this role.”
He said fiscal management is one of the biggest challenges facing the city, especially in light of the province’s budget released Tuesday which eliminated the city’s $3.4-million operating grant.
“So that’s like $15 million over a four-year term, and that’s big money. So fiscal management needs to be outlined and we need to make sure we’re doing things advantageous in the long term and not only short-term fixes,” said Ellsworth, adding collaboration and listening to others will be key to having a successful city.
He said listening to all groups of people — youth, seniors, mothers, people with disabilities — will help make city hall stronger and more community-oriented.
“St. John’s is a changing city. We’ve grown to amazing heights, and continued growth and success will depend on the quality of leadership at city hall. I would like to help lead St. John’s on a continuing path of vision, growth and positive change. I am inspired by words of JFK who said, ‘We have come too far, have sacrificed too much, to disdain the future now.’ St. John’s has a bright future and we must continue our success together,” Ellsworth said.
When Duff learned of Ellsworth’s poll in February, she said she wasn’t bothered by a challenger.
“Of all my elections I’ve ever fought, I’ve had competition, and that to my mind is the essence of democracy,” Duff told The Telegram at the time.
Three St. John’s city councillors have already announced they are not seeking re-election — Debbie Hanlon, Frank Galgay and Gerry Colbert.