Longtime Halifax councillor Waye Mason running for mayor

Coun. Waye Mason announced his candidacy for mayor on Monday, using the slogan "mayor day one" to suggest his experience in municipal politics would allow him to hit the ground running.

Coun. Waye Mason has officially declared his candidacy for mayor of Halifax Regional Municipality.

Mason made the announced Monday at the Dart Gallery in his hometown of Dartmouth.

He now lives on the other side of the harbour and is the councillor for Halifax South Downtown, having been first elected to council in 2012.

Mason told reporters and supporters that housing affordability was a major priority.

"It matters a lot when neighbours in our community are hurting and people are worried they're going to be left behind," said Mason in his speech.

"It's plain — people deserve an affordable place to live. It's become clear to me as I've helped respond to the housing crisis in HRM, that the municipality must take a central role in developing housing solutions."

Full platform coming in September

Mason was flanked by colourful campaign signs with the phrase "mayor day one," suggesting his experience in municipal politics would allow him to hit the ground running.

When asked about his plan for housing, Mason said the full details of his campaign platform would be released in September.

"There's a whole range of things that the municipality could do and that, in negotiations with the province, the municipality could potentially do again," he said.

The Nova Scotia government is responsible for housing and homelessness, but housing was once a municipal responsibility.

The municipality's relationship with the province has been strained in recent years, with councillors repeatedly calling on the N.S. government to do more on affordable housing and homelessness. Council was also critical of a bill that gave a cabinet minister sweeping powers to make development decisions.

Mason said the city's relationship with the province has "gotten much better" in recent months, and feels he could build on that to better tackle pressing homeless and housing issues.

"I don't think the premier or any of his ministers like to see people living in tents either. They don't like to see people falling through the cracks, they don't want to see people left behind," Mason said.

"I'm confident we can work with them, and we can make sure that inside of our mandates that we're delivering what needs to be done."

Although he represents downtown and the south end, Mason said he's connected with people across the municipality during his years at city hall and understands that urban, suburban and rural residents have different needs and priorities. As mayor, Mason also said he'd hold office hours across the region.

"You won't have to come and see me, I'm gonna come and see you," Mason said.

Mason is the fifth person to join the mayoral race, alongside fellow Coun. Pam Lovelace and political newcomers Nolan Greenough, Clay Bowser and Ryan Dodge.

Mason was joined at his announcement by colleagues Coun. Lisa Blackburn, Coun. Tony Mancini and Coun. Iona Stoddard, as well as former councillor Bill Karsten.

"He believes in evidence-based decision-making, but with an empathetic lens," said Blackburn, adding Mason's extensive knowledge of planning and land-use bylaws would serve him well as mayor during Halifax's ongoing population and development boom.

No current councillors attended Coun. Pam Lovelace's campaign launch in May.

Mason said Mayor Mike Savage won't be endorsing any mayoral candidate, which he believes is "fair."

Former music executive

He currently serves as a board member of the Halifax Partnership, is chairperson of the transportation standing committee and also serves as council's Indigenous community liaison.

Before his time at city hall, Mason had a long career in the music industry, founding the Halifax Pop Explosion Association in 2001 and serving as its executive director until 2010.

He was also an instructor of music business at the Nova Scotia Community College from 2007 to 2012.