Bernie Brown is running for Nelson mayor against incumbent Deb Kozak and former mayor John Dooley. Photo: Tyler Harper

Bernie Brown is running for Nelson mayor against incumbent Deb Kozak and former mayor John Dooley. Photo: Tyler Harper

Bernie Brown campaigning to be Nelson’s mayor

Brown says affordable housing, mental health and food security are her priorities

Bernie Brown is best known in Nelson as Bubbles the Clown, but she insists her mayoral campaign is no joke.

Brown is the third candidate for the top job, which is also being contested by incumbent Deb Kozak and former mayor John Dooley ahead of the Oct. 20 municipal election.

“They have both had their chance at being a mayor, and I personally don’t like the direction the city is being led into,” she says.

Brown was a surprise addition to the ballot when the final list of candidates was released following the Sept. 14 application deadline.

She said she felt compelled to run in part because of her disapproval of Kozak and Dooley’s leadership but also because of the overwhelming response she received to a letter she published about mental health in the Star’s Sept. 6 issue.

“I took the opportunity of this celebrity or focus on the letter and my clowning to help and maybe affect change for people who don’t have a voice often.”

Brown said mental health, affordable housing and food security are her campaign’s priorities.

She criticized the city’s deal with Kootenay Co-Op that stipulated three non-market housing units at Nelson Commons be sold at 75 per cent of market value as insufficient.

Brown said she’s still forming her own ideas to address the city’s lack of affordable housing.

“I don’t have a lot of answers at this time,” she said. “I believe in our council that is already in place, that’s why I’m running for mayor. There are things that need to be changed and I always believe that there’s solutions for every problem. I don’t have the answers but I do trust council and I wish to work with council and guide the direction that the city is going toward.”

Brown said she has experience working with non-profits such as the Nelson Food Cupboard and as a mental health peer counsellor.

She referred to herself as a community activist for cannabis decriminalization, but admitted she did not know about the city’s recreational cannabis bylaws that have been set ahead of the Oct. 17 federal legalization.

She said she sees potential for more economic opportunities in Nelson for local artists.

“I know several amazing artists in this town who people don’t even recognize as artists because they recycle garbage and turn it into art. If we had an open gallery we could display our local art, we could help bring those people income.”

Brown had primarily played the part of Bubbles the Clown for 21 years in Nelson, but wrist problems and the passing of her dog recently made her opt toward hanging up her blue wig and balloon animals. She plans on panhandling to finance her campaign.

“It’s just time for a change and I think if we stay in place for too long we stagnate.”



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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