Mayoral Candidate Lawrence Chernoff - in his own words
William Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a name?” and although he was referring to roses, I have my own way of looking at it. You see, there are many people that know my name. They know it because I’ve grown up in Castlegar, worked here, raised my family here and retired here. I have a connection with so many of the residents here through my work as a millwright, paramedic, city councilor and Mayor. Unless you are new to town, most know me by my name.
That means something to me. I have committed myself to public service my entire life and during that time there were very, very difficult days, and days when I knew I had made a difference in someone’s life. My daughter tells me of times when she has run into people in the grocery store who have said her, “I was so relieved to see your Dad walk through my door when I called the ambulance”. Those are the moments I hold on to. I spent 29 years wearing a pager on my hip and walking to work down the street. I ate my supper faster than anyone at the table in case I got called out. I came home on Christmas morning with the ambulance because I was working but wanted to be there when my kids opened their presents. It was the little things, and that didn’t change when I entered politics.
When you put your name in hat to run for public office, you automatically put a target on your own back. It was again, another sacrifice that takes you away from your family. In your mind though, you feel you can make a difference. You want to make Castlegar the best place on earth. You live here. Your family lives here. You want other people to come live here. During my time in politics, I put myself out there. I “pounded the pavement” as they say, and I got to know people. I was visible in the community. This job required intense participation. I was up for the challenge and it was through this participation that people got to know me, and they knew me by name. This became evident when I went and met with the Regional District, Ministers in Victoria, government officials in Ottawa and anywhere my travels took me. I wanted to put Castlegar on the map and I would pour my heart into my work.
Some of my work as Mayor were:
- Chair, Mayor’s Highway 3 Coalition
- Co-Chair, Thunder 2000 Airshow
- Chair, West Kootenay Transit
- Vice-Chair, Regional District of Central Kootenay
- Director, Regional District of Central Kootenay
- Member of the Industrial Taxation Review of B.C.
- Chair, West Kootenay Health Board
- Recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Community Service and Leadership
This is how people got to know my name. I attended most conferences including yearly Union of BC Municipalities and the Federal Conference of Municipalities that took me from one side of Canada to the other. I visited our sister city, Embetsu, Japan, three times in order to maintain student exchange practices and privileges. As glamourous as this may seem, I assure you, it is not. Remember the target on your back? You’re reminded of it in the negative comments people make about you on social media. It’s the phone calls from angry residents. It’s people stopping you on the street to express their displeasure in a recent decision you and council have made. It not only affects us but our families as well. So why have I decided to run again? It’s simple. I love what I do. Servant leadership is part of my identity. When my grandsons grow up, I want them to know how I tried to make Castlegar the best place to live. It’s the legacy I want to leave to them and future generations.
As Mayor I will continue to advocate for the LGBTQ@SIA+ community at both the Provincial and Federal levels. Castlegar is diverse and that’s one thing that makes it such a desirable place to live, work and play. I want to see an openness where citizens feel comfortable to share their opinions, their thoughts and their suggestions on how we positively contribute to the overall fabric of the city.
When we look at housing, it is not a clear picture. We all deserve to have a place to call home whether it be detached homes, apartments or subsidized housing. Solutions to this particular issue can be best dealt with in partnerships with all levels of government. This is not unique to Castlegar. It is a systemic problem that involve people coming together. As a council we will work hard to reach the goals and nobjectives at all levels of government and to address the need for support services for those who need it, particularly our most vulnerable.
In most elections, there’s always some “hot topic” that brings people out to the polling stations. This year, it is the issue of the Brandson Park development. This is something I was against from the beginning. My house is just down the street from this park. My kids played on the swing sets there, they swam in the pool there and it was a big part of their childhood growing up. I was part of the contingent who tirelessly tried to get council to re-think where this development could go. To what degree were other sites explored? It makes absolutely no sense to tear down a park to build a housing development. Further, this is not low-income housing as some have been led to believe. Even with a petition with upwards of 1500 signatures, most of council still voted in favour. This is a problem. This is a perfect example of council not listening to their constituents; the people who voted them in with the hope that they would have a voice at the table.
In essence, when people hear the name Chernoff, I want them to think of a man whose passion, experience, commitment and dedication to the community saw no boundaries.
A vote for Chernoff is placing trust in me and what I can bring to the table through my many years of service to the community. Although I am far from perfect, my heart strives to be the best leader I can be. I listen, I collaborate, I share and I try to do it with a smile on my face.
So while the name Chernoff may not make you think of roses, my hope is that it brings to mind the hope that I am the one that can lead Castlegar over the next four years with courage of conviction, strength, engagement and integrity.
Remember the name CHERNOFF for Mayor on October 15, 2022.