THUNDER BAY – Frank Pullia is hoping the fifth time will be the charm.
As has been long suspected, the veteran municipal political figure confirmed to an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 supporters at the Chanterelle on Tuesday night that he will once again be seeking the mayor’s office.
“My wide reach in the community and support will enable me as the mayor to accelerate the progress the city has already shown in the last four years,” Pullia said, adding Thunder Bay needs a clear sense of direction.
“There has been progress but we need to do more.”
The 63-year-old came the closest in his previous mayoral attempts in 2000 when he garnered 41 per cent of the vote to finish runner-up to then-incumbent Ken Boshcoff. He also ran unsuccessfully in 1997, 2003 and 2010.
The current at-large councillor has had a recurring presence at city hall since first being elected as a ward councillor in 1994, following that up with two at-large election victories in 2006 and 2014.
Pullia, the city’s budget chair, pointed to the three straight surpluses the city has run since he assumed that responsibility.
“Fiscal responsibility is very important. The water rates are too high. Our taxes are some of the highest in the province,” Pullia said.
“We have made some progress and we’ll stay on that path. We can find internal savings through ongoing review of our operations. The outside environment is changing all the time and we need to be nimble, adaptable.”
Pullia identified building a more inclusive and welcoming city that takes care of the most vulnerable while enhancing the relationship with the Indigenous community as key priorities for the next term.
“We have invested in the physical infrastructure and that’s important – climate adaptation, stormwater management – but the social infrastructure that is needed to ensure the social issues of homelessness, poverty and mental health and addiction are dealt with in a compassionate and progressive way,” Pullia said.
“We need to find innovative solutions in order to move our city forward.”
With more than a month remaining in the nomination period, this is shaping up to be one of the hotly contested mayor’s races in the city’s history.
Pullia joins fellow councillor Iain Angus on the ballot, along with Kevin Cernjul, Mariann Sawicki, Shane Judge, Ron Chookomolin and Jim Gamble. Another council colleague, Larry Hebert, has publicly declared his intent to run but has yet to officially register his candidacy.
“I’m staying focused on my message and my plan,” Pullia said. “If anything, the more people that run for mayor I think the better for me. My support I believe is solid, it’s consistent, it’s broad across the city and at the end of the day the people will speak. The community will decide who they want.”