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Gary Korpan

When I was 12 years old Nanaimo voters elected Gary Richard Korpan as their mayor. They repeated this again in 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2005. Tonight, however, it appears the voters have chosen a new mayor in businessman John Ruttan.

Although I’m not a big of Korpan, I think he deserves credit for braving the storm so long and devoting 15 years of his life to the service of Nanaimo as mayor.

I believe that in many ways the Nanaimo of today is a vast improvement over the Nanaimo of 1993 and that he deserves credit for helping to make that happen. I know he believed in making Nanaimo a better place.

He’s also played a pivotol role in my career as a journalist. In fact, my very first interview was with him. We sat outside the museum and he patiently answer my questions – even the silly one “Who’s your favourite Spice Girl?” He conceded he wasn’t familar with their work but had an extensive music cd collection of rock, jazz and pop.

My next interview with him, unfortunately, didn’t paint him in a great light. I wanted to address the issues facing gay and lesbian youth with local politicians. His answers, and ignorance on the issue, was shocking to say the least. The following year he famously vacated the council chamber along with four councillors when a motion to declare pride week was brought forward.

He’s never made a secret of his adamant opposition to gay pride celebrations or parades.  He’s consistently voted against them stating that he would also vote against any heterosexual pride celebrations.

Although I disagree with his position I respect that he stood by his beliefs against all odds.
I wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

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