- New West Anchor
- Loss in mayoral race spells retirement for Chuck Puchmayr
Loss in mayoral race spells retirement for Chuck Puchmayr
Chuck Puchmayr, an independent, ran against progressive slate Community First's Patrick Johnstone and centre-right slate Progressives' Ken Armstrong
Chuck Puchmayr's 2022 campaign photo/Chuck Puchmayr
Today, Chuck Puchmayr says he’s planning on picking up all of his election signs. As for tomorrow, who knows?
The former city councillor says retirement is on the docket for him after coming in last place among three candidates for mayor in New West on Saturday night.
Puchmayr, who was broadly seen as aligned with the city councillors who formed Community First, ran as an independent, challenging Community First mayoral candidate Patrick Johnstone and Ken Armstrong of the New West Progressives.
Johnstone won handily, receiving 6,676 votes, a 42% share of the total, followed by Armstrong’s 5,227 votes (33%) and Puchmayr’s 3,912 votes (25%).
After his loss was effectively confirmed, but the race between Johnstone and Armstrong was not yet finalized, Puchmayr offered his congratulations to all of the successful council members.
“They have a very, very tough haul ahead. We’re heading into massive economic problems in the country and in the world,” he said.
“We need to really be frugal. We need to really focus on what we really need to do as a local government. We need to make sure that they’re not doing pet projects. They’ve got a tough task at hand.”
He said he believed the city needed to keep taxes low and to protect small businesses, who he said are “really struggling.” He also took aim at the city’s $36-million commitment to cycling infrastructure, which was passed prior to the election.
In particular, he said small businesses along Sixth Street are being impacted by the new bike lanes installed there.
“We need to address the housing crisis and the opioid crisis and all the things that are hurting the brands of cities,” he said.
In an interview with The Anchor, Puchmayr said that while he would be retiring from politics, he’d still be active in the community, including in his role as the chair of the Lookout Society’s board of directors.
“We’re doing just amazing work. We’re building an 11-storey highrise in Vancouver and modulars [housing], and we’re building housing from Chilliwack to Vancouver Island,” he said.
“So, [it’s] very rewarding, very important work, sort of lower-key than being in the public eye. … I’ll be very active in the community; I just won’t be an elected official.”
Puchmayr reflected proudly on a nearly three-decade career in politics, first being elected in 1996. He spent time in both local and provincial politics and said he was happy with his time in office.
“Probably the biggest thing that I ever delivered in the city was with the extra money from the destination casino. … We were the only city in British Columbia that was accepting a destination licence,” he said, noting that the opposition at the time was “railing against the evils of gaming.”
But he said the city received nearly a quarter-billion dollars for tourism-related infrastructure, funding a library and a community centre, “and just some incredible assets that we delivered in the community for absolutely zero cost to the taxpayer.”
He also said he was proud to have been part of the work to get provincial funding to build Westminster Pier Park.
“Those are legacies that won’t directly have my name on them, but I know in my heart that I played a very big role in,” he said.
“I can go back and breathe a sigh of relief that we delivered these things for our citizens, for myself, my family, and the citizens of New Westminster.”