Retired Alberni District Secondary School principal Mike Ruttan is following his own advice in announcing he will run for mayor in November’s municipal election.
“I always told my students that if they want something then they should prepare themselves and go for it,” Ruttan said. “Well I’m preparing and I’m going for it.”
A cross-section of people have encouraged him to run, he said. “A lot of those people were students when I was a principal who are now grown.”
The married father of four was born and raised in Port Alberni, and his roots go back to 1939 when his family’s first descendant arrived. “I’m from Port Alberni. I’ve worked in Port Alberni. And when I retired last year I never left Port Alberni,” he said.
Ruttan has set up a Facebook page and Twitter account as a way of reaching out to voters for his candidacy
Ruttan worked as a teacher and principal in Bamfield and Port Alberni from 1979 until 2013. He was the first principal of the new ADSS on Roger Street.
Communication with council, staff and the city’s taxpayers is a cornerstone of Ruttan’s platform. “You need to communicate with people but they need to be engaged in a meaningful way first.”
Ruttan admits he lacks council experience but says he’s stayed abreast of civic politics as a citizen. He dealt with politicians as a principal, worked with a large staff and understands large budgets. “But it’s about communicating, working with people and taking care of their needs, something I’ve done throughout my career,” he said.
The city needs to live within its means and that includes city councillors, Ruttan said. “It was a mistake for council to ask taxpayers to pay more property tax while at the same time increasing their own compensation.”
Ruttan said he’s well equipped to handle any challenges to his beliefs or decisions.
“I was constantly challenged in my career. But you learn that no one has all the answers, You work with people and exchange ideas,” he said. “If being challenged creates better ideas and subsequently a stronger community then I support that.”
Diversifying the economy, increasing voter participation particularly among the youth demographic and regaining the trust of the electorate are key issues the city is facing, Ruttan said.
“The city needs someone who can pull the community together when issues arise.