Coun. Josh Morgan has entered the race to become London’s next mayor, filing his papers at city hall just two days after Mayor Ed Holder announced he would not be seeking a second term.
The Ward 7 councillor, who has often served as deputy mayor while Holder dealt with health issues this year, filed his papers at city hall Thursday morning.
Morgan was first elected to council in 2014 and also served as the city’s budget chair.
Morgan told reporters he has the experience to lead the city as it recovers from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for our city. We are on the cusp of being a major Canadian player,” said Morgan. “I’m a collaborator who can bring people together to lead this council and put London on the world stage.”
Morgan admitted London faces serious challenges, including ongoing issues with vacancies in the downtown core and pressures that come with being one of the fastest-growing cities in the province.
He said affordability, as it is in next week’s provincial election, will be a significant issue in the municipal vote.
“I do not know how my kids will be able to afford their own home in this city with the way the costs have elevated,” he said. “This is going to require a concerted effort but we will also have to take action.”
Morgan pointed to work by the London Development Institute and other organizations and collaborations with senior governments as ways to add more housing supply to the city.
As for how London will grow, Morgan said he supports the “inward and upward” vision of the London Plan, but also said he would consider amending it when it makes sense.
“You’ve seen me support multiple intense developments in the downtown core and infill along challenging streets like Fanshawe and other places,” he said. “We need all types of housing in this city and we have to find ways to find that balance.”
Push for more residences downtown
As for London’s struggling downtown, Morgan said he supports encouraging more residential development in the core.
“What downtown London needs is people living here,” he said. “More residential development downtown is absolutely critical to the long-term support of London’s businesses and I’m 100 per cent committed to that.”
Morgan was joined at the city’s elections office by former city manager Martin Hayward, who retired in 2019 after a 35-year career at city hall.
Hayward will serve as a special advisor on Morgan’s campaign.
“This is a guy I believe in,” said Hayward. “When he says he’s going to do something, he does it.”
So far, the only other candidate to enter the mayoral race is Sean O’Connell, who also ran for mayor in 2018.
Candidates for mayor and council have until Aug. 19 to file their nomination papers ahead of the Oct. 24 vote.