Rumours have abounded for weeks that Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly would flip-flop and put his name on the ballot for October’s municipal election after all.
The mayor inflamed some of that speculation Thursday as he neither confirmed nor denied that he would change his mind and run again.
When asked — twice — to answer yes or no as to whether he would reoffer for mayor, he ignored those parameters.
“I have not altered my decision,” he said.
He did the same when asked if he would run for a council seat instead.
On Feb. 22, after 27 years in municipal politics, Kelly said he had decided he would not seek re-election. At that time, he was trailing Mike Savage by more than 25 percentage points in the most recent poll.
“Looking back over the last few months, (the last) few days, and trying to determine what to do for the future, clearly it was time to make a change,” he told The Chronicle Herald at the time.
“When you’re putting in 90-plus hours a week, and you focus on one issue only, (the) job … certainly other things fall off the table that should be focused on.”
One thing that “fell off the table” was wrapping up Mary Thibeault’s estate, Kelly said.
The Coast weekly newspaper had published a story alleging the mayor had taken $160,000 from the woman’s will. Court documents subsequently filed at Nova Scotia Probate Court contain the same allegations from several of Thibeault’s heirs, who also say the will has yet to be settled more than seven years after her death.
Five beneficiaries have petitioned the court to remove Kelly as executor. The case goes to court Sept. 19.
But Thibeault’s estate has slipped from mainstream media attention in recent months, as have some of the other issues that have dogged the mayor, including his part in the cash-for-concerts scandal and council’s secrecy surrounding the decision to evict Occupy Nova Scotia protesters from Victoria Park.
The mayor may be hoping the public has forgotten as well, a Cape Breton University political scientist says.
“He’s well aware of the old adage that six months is an eternity in politics,” Tom Urbaniak said.
“He may well be assuming that those issues will sort of be background noise, but not front and centre, if indeed he does decide to put forward his candidacy for mayor or a councillor’s position.”
Coun. Tim Outhit, who is running in the newly drawn Bedford-Wentworth riding, tweeted Thursday that he had heard polling was being done to learn the mayor’s chances of winning the seat. Outhit could not be reached later in the day.
But Kelly told The Chronicle Herald he’s not conducting any polling and that he has given no indication he plans to run for a council seat. Again, he avoided answering with a direct yes or no.
“There’s a lot of speculation and I have not indicated I’m going in that direction,” he said.
Kelly said he does not have a campaign team. In May, he filed his campaign expenses with the city clerk, showing that he had raised and spent more than $82,000 from October 2008 — when the last municipal election was held — to this spring.
The $1,894.12 left over was donated to the Parker Street food bank.
Kelly’s political career began in 1985 when he was elected as a councillor in the town of Bedford. Six years later, he would become the mayor of Bedford.
In 2000, several years after Bedford was merged into the new Halifax Regional Municipality, Kelly handily defeated Walter Fitzgerald to become mayor. Kelly had represented Bedford on regional council since amalgamation in 1996.
When he announced in February that he was not reoffering, Kelly cited the $333-million harbour cleanup and the compensation deal with Africville residents as two of his greatest achievements.
No clear answers from Kelly on council plans
August 23, 2012